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Title: A Doll's House
Author: Henrik Ibsen
March, 2001 [Etext #2542]
The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen
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A DOLL'S HOUSE
by Henrik Ibsen
Nora, his wife.
Helmer's three young children.
Anne, their nurse.
(The action takes place in Helmer's house.)
A DOLL'S HOUSE
(SCENE.--A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not
extravagantly. At the back, a door to the right leads to the
entrance-hall, another to the left leads to Helmer's study.
Between the doors stands a piano. In the middle of the left-hand
wall is a door, and beyond it a window. Near the window are a
round table, arm-chairs and a small sofa. In the right-hand wall,
at the farther end, another door; and on the same side, nearer
the footlights, a stove, two easy chairs and a rocking-chair;
between the stove and the door, a small table. Engravings on the
walls; a cabinet with china and other small objects; a small
book-case with well-bound books. The floors are carpeted, and a
fire burns in the stove. It is winter.
A bell rings in the hall; shortly afterwards the door is heard to
open. Enter NORA, humming a tune and in high spirits. She is in
outdoor dress and carries a number of parcels; these she lays on
the table to the right. She leaves the outer door open after her,
and through it is seen a PORTER who is carrying a Christmas Tree
and a basket, which he gives to the MAID who has opened the
Nora. Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the
children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To
the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?
Nora. There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER
thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to
herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of
macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes
cautiously to her husband's door and listens.) Yes, he is in.
(Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)
Helmer (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark
twittering out there?
Nora (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!
Helmer. Is it my little squirrel bustling about?
Helmer. When did my squirrel come home?
Nora. Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and
wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have
Helmer. Don't disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and
looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these
things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?
Nora. Yes but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves go
a little. This is the first Christmas that we have not needed to
Helmer. Still, you know, we can't spend money recklessly. Nora.
Yes, Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn't we?
Just a tiny wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn
lots and lots of money.
Helmer. Yes, after the New Year; but then it will be a whole
quarter before the salary is due.
Nora. Pooh! we can borrow until then.
Helmer. Nora! (Goes up to her and takes her playfully by the
ear.) The same little featherhead! Suppose, now, that I borrowed
fifty pounds today, and you spent it all in the Christmas week,
and then on New Year's Eve a slate fell on my head and killed me,
and--Nora (putting her hands over his mouth). Oh! don't say such
Helmer. Still, suppose that happened,--what then?
Nora. If that were to happen, I don't suppose I should care
whether I owed money or not.
Helmer. Yes, but what about the people who had lent it?
Nora. They? Who would bother about them? I should not know who they
Helmer. That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you know what
I think about that. No debt, no borrowing. There can be no
freedom or beauty about a home life that depends on borrowing and
debt. We two have kept bravely on the straight road so far, and
we will go on the same way for the short time longer that there
need be any struggle.
Nora (moving towards the stove). As you please, Torvald.
Helmer (following her). Come, come, my little skylark must not
droop her wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of
temper? (Taking out his purse.) Nora, what do you think I have
Nora (turning round quickly). Money!
Helmer. There you are. (Gives her some money.) Do you think I
don't know what a lot is wanted for housekeeping at Christmas-
Nora (counting). Ten shillings--a pound--two pounds! Thank you,
thank you, Torvald; that will keep me going for a long time.
Helmer. Indeed it must.
Nora. Yes, yes, it will. But come here and let me show you what I
have bought. And all so cheap! Look, here is a new suit for Ivar,
and a sword; and a horse and a trumpet for Bob; and a doll and
dolly's bedstead for Emmy,--they are very plain, but anyway she
will soon break them in pieces. And here are dress-lengths and
handkerchiefs for the maids; old Anne ought really to have
Helmer. And what is in this parcel?
Nora (crying out). No, no! you mustn't see that until this
Helmer. Very well. But now tell me, you extravagant little
person, what would you like for yourself?
Nora. For myself? Oh, I am sure I don't want anything.
Helmer. Yes, but you must. Tell me something reasonable that you
would particularly like to have.
Nora. No, I really can't think of anything--unless, Torvald--
Nora (playing with his coat buttons, and without raising her eyes
to his). If you really want to give me something, you might--you
Helmer. Well, out with it!
Nora (speaking quickly). You might give me money, Torvald. Only
just as much as you can afford; and then one of these days I will
buy something with it.
Helmer. But, Nora--Nora. Oh, do! dear Torvald; please, please do!
Then I will wrap it up in beautiful gilt paper and hang it on the
Christmas Tree. Wouldn't that be fun?
Helmer. What are little people called that are always wasting
Nora. Spendthrifts--I know. Let us do as you suggest, Torvald,
and then I shall have time to think what I am most in want of.
That is a very sensible plan, isn't it?
Helmer (smiling). Indeed it is--that is to say, if you were
really to save out of the money I give you, and then really buy
something for yourself. But if you spend it all on the
housekeeping and any number of unnecessary things, then I merely
have to pay up again.
Nora. Oh but, Torvald--
Helmer. You can't deny it, my dear little Nora. (Puts his arm
round her waist.) It's a sweet little spendthrift, but she uses
up a deal of money. One would hardly believe how expensive such
little persons are!
Nora. It's a shame to say that. I do really save all I can.
Helmer (laughing). That's very true,--all you can. But you can't
Nora (smiling quietly and happily). You haven't any idea how many
expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.
Helmer. You are an odd little soul. Very like your father. You
always find some new way of wheedling money out of me, and, as
soon as you have got it, it seems to melt in your hands. You
never know where it has gone. Still, one must take you as you
are. It is in the blood; for indeed it is true that you can
inherit these things, Nora.
Nora. Ah, I wish I had inherited many of papa's qualities.
Helmer. And I would not wish you to be anything but just what you
are, my sweet little skylark. But, do you know, it strikes me
that you are looking rather--what shall I say--rather uneasy today?
Nora. Do I?
Helmer. You do, really. Look straight at me.
Nora (looks at him). Well?
Helmer (wagging his finger at her). Hasn't Miss Sweet Tooth been
breaking rules in town today?
Nora. No; what makes you think that?
Helmer. Hasn't she paid a visit to the confectioner's?
Nora. No, I assure you, Torvald--
Helmer. Not been nibbling sweets?
Nora. No, certainly not.
Helmer. Not even taken a bite at a macaroon or two?
Nora. No, Torvald, I assure you really--
Helmer. There, there, of course I was only joking.
Nora (going to the table on the right). I should not think of
going against your wishes.
Helmer. No, I am sure of that; besides, you gave me your word--
(Going up to her.) Keep your little Christmas secrets to
yourself, my darling. They will all be revealed tonight when the
Christmas Tree is lit, no doubt.
Nora. Did you remember to invite Doctor Rank?
Helmer. No. But there is no need; as a matter of course he will
come to dinner with us. However, I will ask him when he comes in
this morning. I have ordered some good wine. Nora, you can't
think how I am looking forward to this evening.
Nora. So am I! And how the children will enjoy themselves, Torvald!
Helmer. It is splendid to feel that one has a perfectly safe
appointment, and a big enough income. It's delightful to think
of, isn't it?
Nora. It's wonderful!
Helmer. Do you remember last Christmas? For a full three weeks
beforehand you shut yourself up every evening until long after
midnight, making ornaments for the Christmas Tree, and all the
other fine things that were to be a surprise to us. It was the
dullest three weeks I ever spent!
Nora. I didn't find it dull.
Helmer (smiling). But there was precious little result, Nora.
Nora. Oh, you shouldn't tease me about that again. How could I
help the cat's going in and tearing everything to pieces?
Helmer. Of course you couldn't, poor little girl. You had the
best of intentions to please us all, and that's the main thing.
But it is a good thing that our hard times are over.
Nora. Yes, it is really wonderful.
Helmer. This time I needn't sit here and be dull all alone, and
you needn't ruin your dear eyes and your pretty little hands--
Nora (clapping her hands). No, Torvald, I needn't any longer,
need I! It's wonderfully lovely to hear you say so! (Taking his
arm.) Now I will tell you how I have been thinking we ought to
arrange things, Torvald. As soon as Christmas is over--(A bell
rings in the hall.) There's the bell. (She tidies the room a
little.) There's some one at the door. What a nuisance!
Helmer. If it is a caller, remember I am not at home.
Maid (in the doorway). A lady to see you, ma'am,--a stranger.
Nora. Ask her to come in.
Maid (to HELMER). The doctor came at the same time, sir.
Helmer. Did he go straight into my room?
Maid. Yes, sir.
(HELMER goes into his room. The MAID ushers in Mrs. LINDE, who is
in travelling dress, and shuts the door.) Mrs. Linde (in a
dejected and timid voice). How do you do, Nora?
Nora (doubtfully). How do you do--Mrs. Linde. You don't recognise
me, I suppose.
Nora. No, I don't know--yes, to be sure, I seem to--(Suddenly.)
Yes! Christine! Is it really you?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, it is I.
Nora. Christine! To think of my not recognising you! And yet how
could I--(In a gentle voice.) How you have altered, Christine!
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I have indeed. In nine, ten long years--
Nora. Is it so long since we met? I suppose it is. The last eight
years have been a happy time for me, I can tell you. And so now
you have come into the town, and have taken this long journey in
winter--that was plucky of you.
Mrs. Linde. I arrived by steamer this morning.
Nora. To have some fun at Christmas-time, of course. How
delightful! We will have such fun together! But take off your
things. You are not cold, I hope. (Helps her.) Now we will sit
down by the stove, and be cosy. No, take this armchair; I will
sit here in the rocking-chair. (Takes her hands.) Now you look
like your old self again; it was only the first moment--You are a
little paler, Christine, and perhaps a little thinner.
Mrs. Linde. And much, much older, Nora.
Nora. Perhaps a little older; very, very little; certainly not
much. (Stops suddenly and speaks seriously.) What a thoughtless
creature I am, chattering away like this. My poor, dear Christine,
do forgive me.
Mrs. Linde. What do you mean, Nora?
Nora (gently). Poor Christine, you are a widow.
Mrs. Linde. Yes; it is three years ago now.
Nora. Yes, I knew; I saw it in the papers. I assure you,
Christine, I meant ever so often to write to you at the time, but
I always put it off and something always prevented me.
Mrs. Linde. I quite understand, dear.
Nora. It was very bad of me, Christine. Poor thing, how you must
have suffered. And he left you nothing?
Mrs. Linde. No.
Nora. And no children?
Mrs. Linde. No.
Nora. Nothing at all, then.
Mrs. Linde. Not even any sorrow or grief to live upon.
Nora (looking incredulously at her). But, Christine, is that
Mrs. Linde (smiles sadly and strokes her hair). It sometimes
Nora. So you are quite alone. How dreadfully sad that must be. I
have three lovely children. You can't see them just now, for they
are out with their nurse. But now you must tell me all about it.
Mrs. Linde. No, no; I want to hear about you.
Nora. No, you must begin. I mustn't be selfish today; today I
must only think of your affairs. But there is one thing I must
tell you. Do you know we have just had a great piece of good
Mrs. Linde. No, what is it?
Nora. Just fancy, my husband has been made manager of the Bank!
Mrs. Linde. Your husband? What good luck!
Nora. Yes, tremendous! A barrister's profession is such an
uncertain thing, especially if he won't undertake unsavoury
cases; and naturally Torvald has never been willing to do that,
and I quite agree with him. You may imagine how pleased we are!
He is to take up his work in the Bank at the New Year, and then
he will have a big salary and lots of commissions. For the future
we can live quite differently--we can do just as we like. I feel
so relieved and so happy, Christine! It will be splendid to have
heaps of money and not need to have any anxiety, won't it?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, anyhow I think it would be delightful to have
what one needs.
Nora. No, not only what one needs, but heaps and heaps of money.
Mrs. Linde (smiling). Nora, Nora, haven't you learned sense yet?
In our schooldays you were a great spendthrift.
Nora (laughing). Yes, that is what Torvald says now. (Wags her
linger at her.) But "Nora, Nora" is not so silly as you think. We
have not been in a position for me to waste money. We have both
had to work.
Mrs. Linde. You too?
Nora. Yes; odds and ends, needlework, crotchet-work, embroidery,
and that kind of thing. (Dropping her voice.) And other things as
well. You know Torvald left his office when we were married?
There was no prospect of promotion there, and he had to try and
earn more than before. But during the first year he over-worked
himself dreadfully. You see, he had to make money every way he
could, and he worked early and late; but he couldn't stand it,
and fell dreadfully ill, and the doctors said it was necessary
for him to go south.
Mrs. Linde. You spent a whole year in Italy, didn't you?
Nora. Yes. It was no easy matter to get away, I can tell you. It was
just after Ivar was born; but naturally we had to go. It was a
wonderfully beautiful journey, and it saved Torvald's life. But
it cost a tremendous lot of money, Christine.
Mrs. Linde. So I should think.
Nora. It cost about two hundred and fifty pounds. That's a lot,
Mrs. Linde. Yes, and in emergencies like that it is lucky to have
Nora. I ought to tell you that we had it from papa.
Mrs. Linde. Oh, I see. It was just about that time that he died,
Nora. Yes; and, just think of it, I couldn't go and nurse him. I
was expecting little Ivar's birth every day and I had my poor
sick Torvald to look after. My dear, kind father--I never saw him
again, Christine. That was the saddest time I have known since
Mrs. Linde. I know how fond you were of him. And then you went
off to Italy?
Nora. Yes; you see we had money then, and the doctors insisted on
our going, so we started a month later.
Mrs. Linde. And your husband came back quite well?
Nora. As sound as a bell!
Mrs. Linde. But--the doctor?
Nora. What doctor?
Mrs. Linde. I thought your maid said the gentleman who arrived
here just as I did, was the doctor?
Nora. Yes, that was Doctor Rank, but he doesn't come here
professionally. He is our greatest friend, and comes in at least
once everyday. No, Torvald has not had an hour's illness since
then, and our children are strong and healthy and so am I. (Jumps
up and claps her hands.) Christine! Christine! it's good to be
alive and happy!--But how horrid of me; I am talking of nothing
but my own affairs. (Sits on a stool near her, and rests her arms
on her knees.) You mustn't be angry with me. Tell me, is it
really true that you did not love your husband? Why did you marry
Mrs. Linde. My mother was alive then, and was bedridden and
helpless, and I had to provide for my two younger brothers; so I
did not think I was justified in refusing his offer.
Nora. No, perhaps you were quite right. He was rich at that time,
Mrs. Linde. I believe he was quite well off. But his business was
a precarious one; and, when he died, it all went to pieces and
there was nothing left.
Nora. And then?--
Mrs. Linde. Well, I had to turn my hand to anything I could find-
-first a small shop, then a small school, and so on. The last
three years have seemed like one long working-day, with no rest.
Now it is at an end, Nora. My poor mother needs me no more, for
she is gone; and the boys do not need me either; they have got
situations and can shift for themselves.
Nora. What a relief you must feel if--
Mrs. Linde. No, indeed; I only feel my life unspeakably empty. No
one to live for anymore. (Gets up restlessly.) That was why I
could not stand the life in my little backwater any longer. I
hope it may be easier here to find something which will busy me
and occupy my thoughts. If only I could have the good luck to get
some regular work--office work of some kind--
Nora. But, Christine, that is so frightfully tiring, and you look
tired out now. You had far better go away to some watering-place.
Mrs. Linde (walking to the window). I have no father to give me
money for a journey, Nora.
Nora (rising). Oh, don't be angry with me!
Mrs. Linde (going up to her). It is you that must not be angry
with me, dear. The worst of a position like mine is that it makes
one so bitter. No one to work for, and yet obliged to be always
on the lookout for chances. One must live, and so one becomes
selfish. When you told me of the happy turn your fortunes have
taken--you will hardly believe it--I was delighted not so much on
your account as on my own.
Nora. How do you mean?--Oh, I understand. You mean that perhaps
Torvald could get you something to do.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, that was what I was thinking of.
Nora. He must, Christine. Just leave it to me; I will broach the
subject very cleverly--I will think of something that will please
him very much. It will make me so happy to be of some use to you.
Mrs. Linde. How kind you are, Nora, to be so anxious to help me!
It is doubly kind in you, for you know so little of the burdens
and troubles of life.
Nora. I--? I know so little of them?
Mrs. Linde (smiling). My dear! Small household cares and that
sort of thing!--You are a child, Nora.
Nora (tosses her head and crosses the stage). You ought not to be
Mrs. Linde. No?
Nora. You are just like the others. They all think that I am
incapable of anything really serious--
Mrs. Linde. Come, come--
Nora.--that I have gone through nothing in this world of cares.
Mrs. Linde. But, my dear Nora, you have just told me all your
Nora. Pooh!--those were trifles. (Lowering her voice.) I have not
told you the important thing.
Mrs. Linde. The important thing? What do you mean?
Nora. You look down upon me altogether, Christine--but you ought
not to. You are proud, aren't you, of having worked so hard and
so long for your mother?
Mrs. Linde. Indeed, I don't look down on anyone. But it is true
that I am both proud and glad to think that I was privileged to
make the end of my mother's life almost free from care.
Nora. And you are proud to think of what you have done for your
Mrs. Linde. I think I have the right to be.
Nora. I think so, too. But now, listen to this; I too have
something to be proud and glad of.
Mrs. Linde. I have no doubt you have. But what do you refer to?
Nora. Speak low. Suppose Torvald were to hear! He mustn't on any
account--no one in the world must know, Christine, except you.
Mrs. Linde. But what is it?
Nora. Come here. (Pulls her down on the sofa beside her.) Now I
will show you that I too have something to be proud and glad of.
It was I who saved Torvald's life.
Mrs. Linde. "Saved"? How?
Nora. I told you about our trip to Italy. Torvald would never
have recovered if he had not gone there--
Mrs. Linde. Yes, but your father gave you the necessary funds.
Nora (smiling). Yes, that is what Torvald and all the others
Mrs. Linde. But--
Nora. Papa didn't give us a shilling. It was I who procured the
Mrs. Linde. You? All that large sum?
Nora. Two hundred and fifty pounds. What do you think of that?
Mrs. Linde. But, Nora, how could you possibly do it? Did you win
a prize in the Lottery?
Nora (contemptuously). In the Lottery? There would have been no
credit in that.
Mrs. Linde. But where did you get it from, then? Nora (humming
and smiling with an air of mystery). Hm, hm! Aha!
Mrs. Linde. Because you couldn't have borrowed it.
Nora. Couldn't I? Why not?
Mrs. Linde. No, a wife cannot borrow without her husband's
Nora (tossing her head). Oh, if it is a wife who has any head for
business--a wife who has the wit to be a little bit clever--
Mrs. Linde. I don't understand it at all, Nora.
Nora. There is no need you should. I never said I had borrowed
the money. I may have got it some other way. (Lies back on the
sofa.) Perhaps I got it from some other admirer. When anyone is
as attractive as I am--
Mrs. Linde. You are a mad creature.
Nora. Now, you know you're full of curiosity, Christine.
Mrs. Linde. Listen to me, Nora dear. Haven't you been a little
Nora (sits up straight). Is it imprudent to save your husband's
Mrs. Linde. It seems to me imprudent, without his knowledge, to--
Nora. But it was absolutely necessary that he should not know! My
goodness, can't you understand that? It was necessary he should
have no idea what a dangerous condition he was in. It was to me
that the doctors came and said that his life was in danger, and
that the only thing to save him was to live in the south. Do you
suppose I didn't try, first of all, to get what I wanted as if it
were for myself? I told him how much I should love to travel
abroad like other young wives; I tried tears and entreaties with
him; I told him that he ought to remember the condition I was in,
and that he ought to be kind and indulgent to me; I even hinted
that he might raise a loan. That nearly made him angry, Christine.
He said I was thoughtless, and that it was his duty as my husband
not to indulge me in my whims and caprices--as I believe he called
them. Very well, I thought, you must be saved--and that was how
I came to devise a way out of the difficulty--
Mrs. Linde. And did your husband never get to know from your
father that the money had not come from him?
Nora. No, never. Papa died just at that time. I had meant to let
him into the secret and beg him never to reveal it. But he was so
ill then--alas, there never was any need to tell him.
Mrs. Linde. And since then have you never told your secret to
Nora. Good Heavens, no! How could you think so? A man who has
such strong opinions about these things! And besides, how painful
and humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly
independence, to know that he owed me anything! It would upset
our mutual relations altogether; our beautiful happy home would
no longer be what it is now.
Mrs. Linde. Do you mean never to tell him about it?
Nora (meditatively, and with a half smile). Yes--someday,
perhaps, after many years, when I am no longer as nice-looking as
I am now. Don't laugh at me! I mean, of course, when Torvald is
no longer as devoted to me as he is now; when my dancing and
dressing-up and reciting have palled on him; then it may be a
good thing to have something in reserve--(Breaking off.) What
nonsense! That time will never come. Now, what do you think of my
great secret, Christine? Do you still think I am of no use? I can
tell you, too, that this affair has caused me a lot of worry. It
has been by no means easy for me to meet my engagements
punctually. I may tell you that there is something that is
called, in business, quarterly interest, and another thing called
payment in installments, and it is always so dreadfully difficult
to manage them. I have had to save a little here and there, where
I could, you understand. I have not been able to put aside much
from my housekeeping money, for Torvald must have a good table. I
couldn't let my children be shabbily dressed; I have felt obliged
to use up all he gave me for them, the sweet little darlings!
Mrs. Linde. So it has all had to come out of your own necessaries
of life, poor Nora?
Nora. Of course. Besides, I was the one responsible for it. Whenever
Torvald has given me money for new dresses and such things, I have
never spent more than half of it; I have always bought the simplest
and cheapest things. Thank Heaven, any clothes look well on me,
and so Torvald has never noticed it. But it was often very hard
on me, Christine--because it is delightful to be really well
dressed, isn't it?
Mrs. Linde. Quite so.
Nora. Well, then I have found other ways of earning money. Last
winter I was lucky enough to get a lot of copying to do; so I
locked myself up and sat writing every evening until quite late
at night. Many a time I was desperately tired; but all the same
it was a tremendous pleasure to sit there working and earning
money. It was like being a man.
Mrs. Linde. How much have you been able to pay off in that way?
Nora. I can't tell you exactly. You see, it is very difficult to
keep an account of a business matter of that kind. I only know
that I have paid every penny that I could scrape together. Many a
time I was at my wits' end. (Smiles.) Then I used to sit here and
imagine that a rich old gentleman had fallen in love with me--
Mrs. Linde. What! Who was it?
Nora. Be quiet!--that he had died; and that when his will was
opened it contained, written in big letters, the instruction:
"The lovely Mrs. Nora Helmer is to have all I possess paid over
to her at once in cash."
Mrs. Linde. But, my dear Nora--who could the man be?
Nora. Good gracious, can't you understand? There was no old
gentleman at all; it was only something that I used to sit here
and imagine, when I couldn't think of any way of procuring money.
But it's all the same now; the tiresome old person can stay where
he is, as far as I am concerned; I don't care about him or his
will either, for I am free from care now. (Jumps up.) My
goodness, it's delightful to think of, Christine! Free from care!
To be able to be free from care, quite free from care; to be able
to play and romp with the children; to be able to keep the house
beautifully and have everything just as Torvald likes it! And,
think of it, soon the spring will come and the big blue sky!
Perhaps we shall be able to take a little trip--perhaps I shall
see the sea again! Oh, it's a wonderful thing to be alive and be
happy. (A bell is heard in the hall.)
Mrs. Linde (rising). There is the bell; perhaps I had better go.
Nora. No, don't go; no one will come in here; it is sure to be
Servant (at the hall door). Excuse me, ma'am--there is a
gentleman to see the master, and as the doctor is with him--Nora.
Who is it?
Krogstad (at the door). It is I, Mrs. Helmer. (Mrs. LINDE starts,
trembles, and turns to the window.)
Nora (takes a step towards him, and speaks in a strained, low
voice). You? What is it? What do you want to see my husband
Krogstad. Bank business--in a way. I have a small post in the
Bank, and I hear your husband is to be our chief now--
Nora. Then it is--
Krogstad. Nothing but dry business matters, Mrs. Helmer;
absolutely nothing else.
Nora. Be so good as to go into the study, then. (She bows
indifferently to him and shuts the door into the hall; then comes
back and makes up the fire in the stove.)
Mrs. Linde. Nora--who was that man?
Nora. A lawyer, of the name of Krogstad.
Mrs. Linde. Then it really was he.
Nora. Do you know the man?
Mrs. Linde. I used to-- many years ago. At one time he was a
solicitor's clerk in our town.
Nora. Yes, he was.
Mrs. Linde. He is greatly altered.
Nora. He made a very unhappy marriage.
Mrs. Linde. He is a widower now, isn't he?
Nora. With several children. There now, it is burning up. Shuts
the door of the stove and moves the rocking-chair aside.)
Mrs. Linde. They say he carries on various kinds of business.
Nora. Really! Perhaps he does; I don't know anything about it.
But don't let us think of business; it is so tiresome.
Doctor Rank (comes out of HELMER'S study. Before he shuts the
door he calls to him). No, my dear fellow, I won't disturb you; I
would rather go in to your wife for a little while. (Shuts the
door and sees Mrs. LINDE.) I beg your pardon; I am afraid I am
disturbing you too.
Nora. No, not at all. (Introducing him). Doctor Rank, Mrs. Linde.
Rank. I have often heard Mrs. Linde's name mentioned here. I
think I passed you on the stairs when I arrived, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I go up very slowly; I can't manage stairs well.
Rank. Ah! some slight internal weakness?
Mrs. Linde. No, the fact is I have been overworking myself.
Rank. Nothing more than that? Then I suppose you have come to
town to amuse yourself with our entertainments?
Mrs. Linde. I have come to look for work.
Rank. Is that a good cure for overwork?
Mrs. Linde. One must live, Doctor Rank.
Rank. Yes, the general opinion seems to be that it is necessary.
Nora. Look here, Doctor Rank--you know you want to live.
Rank. Certainly. However wretched I may feel, I want to prolong
the agony as long as possible. All my patients are like that. And
so are those who are morally diseased; one of them, and a bad
case too, is at this very moment with Helmer--
Mrs. Linde (sadly). Ah!
Nora. Whom do you mean?
Rank. A lawyer of the name of Krogstad, a fellow you don't know
at all. He suffers from a diseased moral character, Mrs. Helmer;
but even he began talking of its being highly important that he
Nora. Did he? What did he want to speak to Torvald about?
Rank. I have no idea; I only heard that it was something about
Nora. I didn't know this--what's his name--Krogstad had anything
to do with the Bank.
Rank. Yes, he has some sort of appointment there. (To Mrs.
LINDE.) I don't know whether you find also in your part of the
world that there are certain people who go zealously snuffing
about to smell out moral corruption, and, as soon as they have
found some, put the person concerned into some lucrative position
where they can keep their eye on him. Healthy natures are left
out in the cold.
Mrs. Linde. Still I think the sick are those who most need taking
Rank (shrugging his shoulders). Yes, there you are. That is the
sentiment that is turning Society into a sick-house.
(NORA, who has been absorbed in her thoughts, breaks out into
smothered laughter and claps her hands.)
Rank. Why do you laugh at that? Have you any notion what Society
Nora. What do I care about tiresome Society? I am laughing at
something quite different, something extremely amusing. Tell me,
Doctor Rank, are all the people who are employed in the Bank
dependent on Torvald now?
Rank. Is that what you find so extremely amusing?
Nora (smiling and humming). That's my affair! (Walking about the
room.) It's perfectly glorious to think that we have--that
Torvald has so much power over so many people. (Takes the packet
from her pocket.) Doctor Rank, what do you say to a macaroon?
Rank. What, macaroons? I thought they were forbidden here.
Nora. Yes, but these are some Christine gave me.
Mrs. Linde. What! I?--
Nora. Oh, well, don't be alarmed! You couldn't know that Torvald
had forbidden them. I must tell you that he is afraid they will
spoil my teeth. But, bah!--once in a way--That's so, isn't it,
Doctor Rank? By your leave! (Puts a macaroon into his mouth.) You
must have one too, Christine. And I shall have one, just a little
one-or at most two. (Walking about.) I am tremendously happy.
There is just one thing in the world now that I should dearly
love to do.
Rank. Well, what is that?
Nora. It's something I should dearly love to say, if Torvald
could hear me.
Rank. Well, why can't you say it?
Nora. No, I daren't; it's so shocking.
Mrs. Linde. Shocking?
Rank. Well, I should not advise you to say it. Still, with us you
might. What is it you would so much like to say if Torvald could
Nora. I should just love to say--Well, I'm damned!
Rank. Are you mad?
Mrs. Linde. Nora, dear--!
Rank. Say it, here he is!
Nora (hiding the packet). Hush! Hush! Hush! (HELMER comes out of
his room, with his coat over his arm and his hat in his hand.)
Nora. Well, Torvald dear, have you got rid of him?
Helmer. Yes, he has just gone.
Nora. Let me introduce you--this is Christine, who has come to town.
Helmer. Christine--? Excuse me, but I don't know--
Nora. Mrs. Linde, dear; Christine Linde.
Helmer. Of course. A school friend of my wife's, I presume?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, we have known each other since then.
Nora. And just think, she has taken a long journey in order to see you.
Helmer. What do you mean? Mrs. Linde. No, really, I--
Nora. Christine is tremendously clever at book-keeping, and she
is frightfully anxious to work under some clever man, so as to
Helmer. Very sensible, Mrs. Linde.
Nora. And when she heard you had been appointed manager of the
Bank--the news was telegraphed, you know--she travelled here as
quick as she could. Torvald, I am sure you will be able to do
something for Christine, for my sake, won't you?
Helmer. Well, it is not altogether impossible. I presume you are
a widow, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes.
Helmer. And have had some experience of book-keeping?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, a fair amount.
Helmer. Ah! well, it's very likely I may be able to find
something for you--
Nora (clapping her hands). What did I tell you? What did I tell
Helmer. You have just come at a fortunate moment, Mrs. Linde.
Mrs. Linde. How am I to thank you?
Helmer. There is no need. (Puts on his coat.) But today you must
Rank. Wait a minute; I will come with you. (Brings his fur coat
from the hall and warms it at the fire.)
Nora. Don't be long away, Torvald dear.
Helmer. About an hour, not more.
Nora. Are you going too, Christine?
Mrs. Linde (putting on her cloak). Yes, I must go and look for a
Helmer. Oh, well then, we can walk down the street together.
Nora (helping her). What a pity it is we are so short of space
here; I am afraid it is impossible for us--
Mrs. Linde. Please don't think of it! Goodbye, Nora dear, and
Nora. Goodbye for the present. Of course you will come back this
evening. And you too, Dr. Rank. What do you say? If you are well
enough? Oh, you must be! Wrap yourself up well. (They go to the
door all talking together. Children's voices are heard on the
Nora. There they are! There they are! (She runs to open the door.
The NURSE comes in with the children.) Come in! Come in! (Stoops
and kisses them.) Oh, you sweet blessings! Look at them,
Christine! Aren't they darlings?
Rank. Don't let us stand here in the draught.
Helmer. Come along, Mrs. Linde; the place will only be bearable
for a mother now!
(RANK, HELMER, and Mrs. LINDE go downstairs. The NURSE comes
forward with the children; NORA shuts the hall door.)
Nora. How fresh and well you look! Such red cheeks like apples
and roses. (The children all talk at once while she speaks to
them.) Have you had great fun? That's splendid! What, you pulled
both Emmy and Bob along on the sledge? --both at once?--that was
good. You are a clever boy, Ivar. Let me take her for a little,
Anne. My sweet little baby doll! (Takes the baby from the MAID
and dances it up and down.) Yes, yes, mother will dance with Bob
too. What! Have you been snowballing? I wish I had been there
too! No, no, I will take their things off, Anne; please let me do
it, it is such fun. Go in now, you look half frozen. There is
some hot coffee for you on the stove.
(The NURSE goes into the room on the left. NORA takes off the
children's things and throws them about, while they all talk to
her at once.)
Nora. Really! Did a big dog run after you? But it didn't bite
you? No, dogs don't bite nice little dolly children. You mustn't
look at the parcels, Ivar. What are they? Ah, I daresay you would
like to know. No, no--it's something nasty! Come, let us have a
game! What shall we play at? Hide and Seek? Yes, we'll play Hide
and Seek. Bob shall hide first. Must I hide? Very well, I'll hide
first. (She and the children laugh and shout, and romp in and out
of the room; at last NORA hides under the table, the children
rush in and out for her, but do not see her; they hear her
smothered laughter, run to the table, lift up the cloth and find
her. Shouts of laughter. She crawls forward and pretends to
frighten them. Fresh laughter. Meanwhile there has been a knock
at the hall door, but none of them has noticed it. The door is
half opened, and KROGSTAD appears, lie waits a little; the game
Krogstad. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer.
Nora (with a stifled cry, turns round and gets up on to her
knees). Ah! what do you want?
Krogstad. Excuse me, the outer door was ajar; I suppose someone
forgot to shut it.
Nora (rising). My husband is out, Mr. Krogstad.
Krogstad. I know that.
Nora. What do you want here, then?
Krogstad. A word with you.
Nora. With me?--(To the children, gently.) Go in to nurse. What?
No, the strange man won't do mother any harm. When he has gone we
will have another game. (She takes the children into the room on
the left, and shuts the door after them.) You want to speak to
Krogstad. Yes, I do.
Nora. Today? It is not the first of the month yet.
Krogstad. No, it is Christmas Eve, and it will depend on yourself
what sort of a Christmas you will spend.
Nora. What do you mean? Today it is absolutely impossible for me--
Krogstad. We won't talk about that until later on. This is
something different. I presume you can give me a moment?
Nora. Yes--yes, I can--although--
Krogstad. Good. I was in Olsen's Restaurant and saw your husband
going down the street--
Krogstad. With a lady.
Nora. What then?
Krogstad. May I make so bold as to ask if it was a Mrs. Linde?
Nora. It was.
Krogstad. Just arrived in town?
Nora. Yes, today.
Krogstad. She is a great friend of yours, isn't she?
Nora. She is. But I don't see--
Krogstad. I knew her too, once upon a time.
Nora. I am aware of that.
Krogstad. Are you? So you know all about it; I thought as much.
Then I can ask you, without beating about the bush--is Mrs. Linde
to have an appointment in the Bank?
Nora. What right have you to question me, Mr. Krogstad?--You, one
of my husband's subordinates! But since you ask, you shall know.
Yes, Mrs. Linde is to have an appointment. And it was I who
pleaded her cause, Mr. Krogstad, let me tell you that.
Krogstad. I was right in what I thought, then.
Nora (walking up and down the stage). Sometimes one has a tiny
little bit of influence, I should hope. Because one is a woman,
it does not necessarily follow that--. When anyone is in a
subordinate position, Mr. Krogstad, they should really be careful
to avoid offending anyone who--who--
Krogstad. Who has influence?
Krogstad (changing his tone). Mrs. Helmer, you will be so good as
to use your influence on my behalf.
Nora. What? What do you mean?
Krogstad. You will be so kind as to see that I am allowed to keep
my subordinate position in the Bank.
Nora. What do you mean by that? Who proposes to take your post
away from you?
Krogstad. Oh, there is no necessity to keep up the pretence of
ignorance. I can quite understand that your friend is not very
anxious to expose herself to the chance of rubbing shoulders with
me; and I quite understand, too, whom I have to thank for being
Nora. But I assure you--
Krogstad. Very likely; but, to come to the point, the time has
come when I should advise you to use your influence to prevent
Nora. But, Mr. Krogstad, I have no influence.
Krogstad. Haven't you? I thought you said yourself just now--
Nora. Naturally I did not mean you to put that construction on
it. I! What should make you think I have any influence of that
kind with my husband?
Krogstad. Oh, I have known your husband from our student days. I
don't suppose he is any more unassailable than other husbands.
Nora. If you speak slightingly of my husband, I shall turn you
out of the house.
Krogstad. You are bold, Mrs. Helmer.
Nora. I am not afraid of you any longer. As soon as the New Year
comes, I shall in a very short time be free of the whole thing.
Krogstad (controlling himself). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. If
necessary) I am prepared to fight for my small post in the Bank
as if I were fighting for my life.
Nora. So it seems.
Krogstad. It is not only for the sake of the money; indeed, that
weighs least with me in the matter. There is another reason--
well, I may as well tell you. My position is this. I daresay you
know, like everybody else, that once, many years ago, I was
guilty of an indiscretion.
Nora. I think I have heard something of the kind.
Krogstad. The matter never came into court; but every way seemed
to be closed to me after that. So I took to the business that you
know of. I had to do something; and, honestly, I don't think I've
been one of the worst. But now I must cut myself free from all
that. My sons are growing up; for their sake I must try and win
back as much respect as I can in the town. This post in the Bank
was like the first step up for me-- and now your husband is going
to kick me downstairs again into the mud.
Nora. But you must believe me, Mr. Krogstad; it is not in my
power to help you at all.
Krogstad. Then it is because you haven't the will; but I have
means to compel you.
Nora. You don't mean that you will tell my husband that I owe you
Krogstad. Hm!--suppose I were to tell him?
Nora. It would be perfectly infamous of you. (Sobbing.) To think
of his learning my secret, which has been my joy and pride, in
such an ugly, clumsy way-- that he should learn it from you! And
it would put me in a horribly disagreeable position--
Krogstad. Only disagreeable?
Nora (impetuously). Well, do it, then!--and it will be the worse
for you. My husband will see for himself what a blackguard you
are, and you certainly won't keep your post then.
Krogstad. I asked you if it was only a disagreeable scene at home
that you were afraid of?
Nora. If my husband does get to know of it, of course he will at
once pay you what is still owing, and we shall have nothing more
to do with you.
Krogstad (coming a step nearer). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer.
Either you have a very bad memory or you know very little of
business. I shall be obliged to remind you of a few details.
Nora. What do you mean?
Krogstad. When your husband was ill, you came to me to borrow two
hundred and fifty pounds.
Nora. I didn't know anyone else to go to.
Krogstad. I promised to get you that amount--
Nora. Yes, and you did so.
Krogstad. I promised to get you that amount, on certain
conditions. Your mind was so taken up with your husband's
illness, and you were so anxious to get the money for your
journey, that you seem to have paid no attention to the conditions
of our bargain. Therefore it will not be amiss if I remind you of
them. Now, I promised to get the money on the security of a bond
which I drew up.
Nora. Yes, and which I signed.
Krogstad. Good. But below your signature there were a few lines
constituting your father a surety for the money; those lines your
father should have signed.
Nora. Should? He did sign them.
Krogstad. I had left the date blank; that is to say, your father
should himself have inserted the date on which he signed the paper.
Do you remember that?
Nora. Yes, I think I remember--
Krogstad. Then I gave you the bond to send by post to your
father. Is that not so?
Krogstad. And you naturally did so at once, because five or six
days afterwards you brought me the bond with your father's
signature. And then I gave you the money.
Nora. Well, haven't I been paying it off regularly?
Krogstad. Fairly so, yes. But--to come back to the matter in
hand--that must have been a very trying time for you, Mrs.
Nora. It was, indeed.
Krogstad. Your father was very ill, wasn't he?
Nora. He was very near his end.
Krogstad. And died soon afterwards?
Krogstad. Tell me, Mrs. Helmer, can you by any chance remember
what day your father died?--on what day of the month, I mean.
Nora. Papa died on the 29th of September.
Krogstad. That is correct; I have ascertained it for myself. And,
as that is so, there is a discrepancy (taking a paper from his
pocket) which I cannot account for.
Nora. What discrepancy? I don't know--
Krogstad. The discrepancy consists, Mrs. Helmer, in the fact that
your father signed this bond three days after his death.
Nora. What do you mean? I don't understand--
Krogstad. Your father died on the 29th of September. But, look
here; your father has dated his signature the 2nd of October. It
is a discrepancy, isn't it? (NORA is silent.) Can you explain it
to me? (NORA is still silent.) It is a remarkable thing, too,
that the words "2nd of October," as well as the year, are not
written in your father's handwriting but in one that I think I
know. Well, of course it can be explained; your father may have
forgotten to date his signature, and someone else may have dated
it haphazard before they knew of his death. There is no harm in
that. It all depends on the signature of the name; and that is
genuine, I suppose, Mrs. Helmer? It was your father himself who
signed his name here?
Nora (after a short pause, throws her head up and looks defiantly
at him). No, it was not. It was I that wrote papa's name.
Krogstad. Are you aware that is a dangerous confession?
Nora. In what way? You shall have your money soon.
Krogstad. Let me ask you a question; why did you not send the
paper to your father?
Nora. It was impossible; papa was so ill. If I had asked him for
his signature, I should have had to tell him what the money was
to be used for; and when he was so ill himself I couldn't tell
him that my husband's life was in danger-- it was impossible.
Krogstad. It would have been better for you if you had given up
your trip abroad.
Nora. No, that was impossible. That trip was to save my husband's
life; I couldn't give that up.
Krogstad. But did it never occur to you that you were committing
a fraud on me?
Nora. I couldn't take that into account; I didn't trouble myself
about you at all. I couldn't bear you, because you put so many
heartless difficulties in my way, although you knew what a dangerous
condition my husband was in.
Krogstad. Mrs. Helmer, you evidently do not realise clearly what
it is that you have been guilty of. But I can assure you that my
one false step, which lost me all my reputation, was nothing more
or nothing worse than what you have done.
Nora. You? Do you ask me to believe that you were brave enough to
run a risk to save your wife's life?
Krogstad. The law cares nothing about motives.
Nora. Then it must be a very foolish law.
Krogstad. Foolish or not, it is the law by which you will be judged,
if I produce this paper in court.
Nora. I don't believe it. Is a daughter not to be allowed to
spare her dying father anxiety and care? Is a wife not to be
allowed to save her husband's life? I don't know much about law;
but I am certain that there must be laws permitting such things
as that. Have you no knowledge of such laws-- you who are a
lawyer? You must be a very poor lawyer, Mr. Krogstad.
Krogstad. Maybe. But matters of business--such business as you
and I have had together--do you think I don't understand that?
Very well. Do as you please. But let me tell you this--if I lose
my position a second time, you shall lose yours with me. (He
bows, and goes out through the hall.)
Nora (appears buried in thought for a short time, then tosses her
head). Nonsense! Trying to frighten me like that!--I am not so
silly as he thinks. (Begins to busy herself putting the children's
things in order.) And yet--? No, it's impossible! I did it for love's sake.
The Children (in the doorway on the left). Mother, the stranger
man has gone out through the gate.
Nora. Yes, dears, I know. But, don't tell anyone about the stranger
man. Do you hear? Not even papa.
Children. No, mother; but will you come and play again?
Nora. No, no,--not now.
Children. But, mother, you promised us.
Nora. Yes, but I can't now. Run away in; I have such a lot to do.
Run away in, my sweet little darlings. (She gets them into the
room by degrees and shuts the door on them; then sits down on the
sofa, takes up a piece of needlework and sews a few stitches, but
soon stops.) No! (Throws down the work, gets up, goes to the hall
door and calls out.) Helen! bring the Tree in. (Goes to the table
on the left, opens a drawer, and stops again.) No, no! it is
Maid (coming in with the Tree). Where shall I put it, ma'am?
Nora. Here, in the middle of the floor.
Maid. Shall I get you anything else?
Nora. No, thank you. I have all I want. [Exit MAID.]
Nora (begins dressing the tree). A candle here-and flowers here--
The horrible man! It's all nonsense--there's nothing wrong. The
tree shall be splendid! I will do everything I can think of to
please you, Torvald!--I will sing for you, dance for you--(HELMER
comes in with some papers under his arm.) Oh! are you back
Helmer. Yes. Has anyone been here?
Nora. Here? No.
Helmer. That is strange. I saw Krogstad going out of the gate.
Nora. Did you? Oh yes, I forgot, Krogstad was here for a moment.
Helmer. Nora, I can see from your manner that he has been here
begging you to say a good word for him.
Helmer. And you were to appear to do it of your own accord; you
were to conceal from me the fact of his having been here; didn't
he beg that of you too?
Nora. Yes, Torvald, but--
Helmer. Nora, Nora, and you would be a party to that sort of
thing? To have any talk with a man like that, and give him any
sort of promise? And to tell me a lie into the bargain?
Nora. A lie--?
Helmer. Didn't you tell me no one had been here? (Shakes his
finger at her.) My little songbird must never do that again. A
songbird must have a clean beak to chirp with-- no false notes!
(Puts his arm round her waist.) That is so, isn't it? Yes, I am
sure it is. (Lets her go.) We will say no more about it. (Sits
down by the stove.) How warm and snug it is here! (Turns over his
Nora (after a short pause, during which she busies herself with
the Christmas Tree.) Torvald!
Nora. I am looking forward tremendously to the fancy-dress ball
at the Stenborgs' the day after tomorrow.
Helmer. And I am tremendously curious to see what you are going
to surprise me with.
Nora. It was very silly of me to want to do that.
Helmer. What do you mean?
Nora. I can't hit upon anything that will do; everything I think
of seems so silly and insignificant.
Helmer. Does my little Nora acknowledge that at last?
Nora (standing behind his chair with her arms on the back of it).
Are you very busy, Torvald?
Helmer. Well--Nora. What are all those papers?
Helmer. Bank business.
Helmer. I have got authority from the retiring manager to
undertake the necessary changes in the staff and in the
rearrangement of the work; and I must make use of the
Christmas week for that, so as to have everything in order
for the new year.
Nora. Then that was why this poor Krogstad--
Nora (leans against the back of his chair and strokes his hair).
If you hadn't been so busy I should have asked you a tremendously
big favour, Torvald.
Helmer. What is that? Tell me.
Nora. There is no one has such good taste as you. And I do so
want to look nice at the fancy-dress ball. Torvald, couldn't you
take me in hand and decide what I shall go as, and what sort of a
dress I shall wear?
Helmer. Aha! so my obstinate little woman is obliged to get
someone to come to her rescue?
Nora. Yes, Torvald, I can't get along a bit without your help.
Helmer. Very well, I will think it over, we shall manage to hit
Nora. That is nice of you. (Goes to the Christmas Tree. A short
pause.) How pretty the red flowers look--. But, tell me, was it
really something very bad that this Krogstad was guilty of?
Helmer. He forged someone's name. Have you any idea what that
Nora. Isn't it possible that he was driven to do it by necessity?
Helmer. Yes; or, as in so many cases, by imprudence. I am not so
heartless as to condemn a man altogether because of a single false
step of that kind.
Nora. No, you wouldn't, would you, Torvald?
Helmer. Many a man has been able to retrieve his character, if he
has openly confessed his fault and taken his punishment.
Helmer. But Krogstad did nothing of that sort; he got himself out
of it by a cunning trick, and that is why he has gone under altogether.
Nora. But do you think it would--?
Helmer. Just think how a guilty man like that has to lie and play
the hypocrite with every one, how he has to wear a mask in the
presence of those near and dear to him, even before his own wife
and children. And about the children-- that is the most terrible
part of it all, Nora.
Helmer. Because such an atmosphere of lies infects and poisons
the whole life of a home. Each breath the children take in such a
house is full of the germs of evil.
Nora (coming nearer him). Are you sure of that?
Helmer. My dear, I have often seen it in the course of my life as
a lawyer. Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life
has had a deceitful mother.
Nora. Why do you only say-- mother?
Helmer. It seems most commonly to be the mother's influence,
though naturally a bad father's would have the same result. Every
lawyer is familiar with the fact. This Krogstad, now, has been
persistently poisoning his own children with lies and
dissimulation; that is why I say he has lost all moral character.
(Holds out his hands to her.) That is why my sweet little Nora
must promise me not to plead his cause. Give me your hand on it.
Come, come, what is this? Give me your hand. There now, that's
settled. I assure you it would be quite impossible for me to work
with him; I literally feel physically ill when I am in the company
of such people.
Nora (takes her hand out of his and goes to the opposite side of
the Christmas Tree). How hot it is in here; and I have such a lot
Helmer (getting up and putting his papers in order). Yes, and I
must try and read through some of these before dinner; and I must
think about your costume, too. And it is just possible I may have
something ready in gold paper to hang up on the Tree. (Puts his
hand on her head.) My precious little singing-bird! (He goes into
his room and shuts the door after him.)
Nora (after a pause, whispers). No, no--it isn't true. It's
impossible; it must be impossible.
(The NURSE opens the door on the left.)
Nurse. The little ones are begging so hard to be allowed to come
in to mamma.
Nora. No, no, no! Don't let them come in to me! You stay with
Nurse. Very well, ma'am. (Shuts the door.)
Nora (pale with terror). Deprave my little children? Poison my
home? (A short pause. Then she tosses her head.) It's not true.
It can't possibly be true.
(THE SAME SCENE.--THE Christmas Tree is in the corner by the
piano, stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends
on its dishevelled branches. NORA'S cloak and hat are lying on
the sofa. She is alone in the room, walking about uneasily. She
stops by the sofa and takes up her cloak.)
Nora (drops her cloak). Someone is coming now! (Goes to the door
and listens.) No--it is no one. Of course, no one will come today,
Christmas Day--nor tomorrow either. But, perhaps--(opens
the door and looks out). No, nothing in the letterbox; it is
quite empty. (Comes forward.) What rubbish! of course he can't be
in earnest about it. Such a thing couldn't happen; it is
impossible--I have three little children.
(Enter the NURSE from the room on the left, carrying a big
Nurse. At last I have found the box with the fancy dress.
Nora. Thanks; put it on the table.
Nurse (doing so). But it is very much in want of mending.
Nora. I should like to tear it into a hundred thousand pieces.
Nurse. What an idea! It can easily be put in order--just a little
Nora. Yes, I will go and get Mrs. Linde to come and help me with
Nurse. What, out again? In this horrible weather? You will catch
cold, ma'am, and make yourself ill.
Nora. Well, worse than that might happen. How are the children?
Nurse. The poor little souls are playing with their Christmas
Nora. Do they ask much for me?
Nurse. You see, they are so accustomed to have their mamma with
Nora. Yes, but, nurse, I shall not be able to be so much with
them now as I was before.
Nurse. Oh well, young children easily get accustomed to anything.
Nora. Do you think so? Do you think they would forget their
mother if she went away altogether?
Nurse. Good heavens!--went away altogether?
Nora. Nurse, I want you to tell me something I have often
wondered about--how could you have the heart to put your own
child out among strangers?
Nurse. I was obliged to, if I wanted to be little Nora's nurse.
Nora. Yes, but how could you be willing to do it?
Nurse. What, when I was going to get such a good place by it? A
poor girl who has got into trouble should be glad to. Besides,
that wicked man didn't do a single thing for me.
Nora. But I suppose your daughter has quite forgotten you.
Nurse. No, indeed she hasn't. She wrote to me when she was
confirmed, and when she was married.
Nora (putting her arms round her neck). Dear old Anne, you were a
good mother to me when I was little.
Nurse. Little Nora, poor dear, had no other mother but me. Nora.
And if my little ones had no other mother, I am sure you would--
What nonsense I am talking! (Opens the box.) Go in to them. Now I
must--. You will see tomorrow how charming I shall look.
Nurse. I am sure there will be no one at the ball so charming as
you, ma'am. (Goes into the room on the left.)
Nora (begins to unpack the box, but soon pushes it away from
her). If only I dared go out. If only no one would come. If only
I could be sure nothing would happen here in the meantime. Stuff
and nonsense! No one will come. Only I mustn't think about it. I
will brush my muff. What lovely, lovely gloves! Out of my thoughts,
out of my thoughts! One, two, three, four, five, six--
(Screams.) Ah! there is someone coming--. (Makes a movement
towards the door, but stands irresolute.)
(Enter MRS. LINDE from the hall, where she has taken off her
cloak and hat.)
Nora. Oh, it's you, Christine. There is no one else out there, is
there? How good of you to come!
Mrs. Linde. I heard you were up asking for me.
Nora. Yes, I was passing by. As a matter of fact, it is something
you could help me with. Let us sit down here on the sofa. Look
here. Tomorrow evening there is to be a fancy-dress ball at the
Stenborgs', who live above us; and Torvald wants me to go as a
Neapolitan fisher-girl, and dance the Tarantella that I learned at
Mrs. Linde. I see; you are going to keep up the character.
Nora. Yes, Torvald wants me to. Look, here is the dress; Torvald had
it made for me there, but now it is all so torn, and I haven't any
Mrs. Linde. We will easily put that right. It is only some of the
trimming come unsewn here and there. Needle and thread? Now then,
that's all we want.
Nora. It is nice of you.
Mrs. Linde (sewing). So you are going to be dressed up tomorrow
Nora. I will tell you what--I shall come in for a moment and see
you in your fine feathers. But I have completely forgotten to
thank you for a delightful evening yesterday.
Nora (gets up, and crosses the stage). Well, I don't think
yesterday was as pleasant as usual. You ought to have come to
town a little earlier, Christine. Certainly Torvald does
understand how to make a house dainty and attractive.
Mrs. Linde. And so do you, it seems to me; you are not your
father's daughter for nothing. But tell me, is Doctor Rank always
as depressed as he was yesterday?
Nora. No; yesterday it was very noticeable. I must tell you that
he suffers from a very dangerous disease. He has consumption of
the spine, poor creature. His father was a horrible man who
committed all sorts of excesses; and that is why his son was
sickly from childhood, do you understand?
Mrs. Linde (dropping her sewing). But, my dearest Nora, how do
you know anything about such things?
Nora (walking about). Pooh! When you have three children, you get
visits now and then from--from married women, who know something
of medical matters, and they talk about one thing and another.
Mrs. Linde (goes on sewing. A short silence). Does Doctor Rank
come here everyday?
Nora. Everyday regularly. He is Torvald's most intimate friend,
and a great friend of mine too. He is just like one of the family.
Mrs. Linde. But tell me this--is he perfectly sincere? I mean, isn't
he the kind of man that is very anxious to make himself agreeable?
Nora. Not in the least. What makes you think that?
Mrs. Linde. When you introduced him to me yesterday, he declared he
had often heard my name mentioned in this house; but afterwards I
noticed that your husband hadn't the slightest idea who I was.
So how could Doctor Rank--?
Nora. That is quite right, Christine. Torvald is so absurdly fond
of me that he wants me absolutely to himself, as he says. At first
he used to seem almost jealous if I mentioned any of the dear folk
at home, so naturally I gave up doing so. But I often talk about
such things with Doctor Rank, because he likes hearing about them.
Mrs. Linde. Listen to me, Nora. You are still very like a child
in many things, and I am older than you in many ways and have a
little more experience. Let me tell you this--you ought to make
an end of it with Doctor Rank.
Nora. What ought I to make an end of?
Mrs. Linde. Of two things, I think. Yesterday you talked some
nonsense about a rich admirer who was to leave you money--
Nora. An admirer who doesn't exist, unfortunately! But what then?
Mrs. Linde. Is Doctor Rank a man of means?
Nora. Yes, he is.
Mrs. Linde. And has no one to provide for?
Nora. No, no one; but--
Mrs. Linde. And comes here everyday?
Nora. Yes, I told you so.
Mrs. Linde. But how can this well-bred man be so tactless?
Nora. I don't understand you at all.
Mrs. Linde. Don't prevaricate, Nora. Do you suppose I don't guess
who lent you the two hundred and fifty pounds?
Nora. Are you out of your senses? How can you think of such a thing!
A friend of ours, who comes here everyday! Do you realise what a
horribly painful position that would be?
Mrs. Linde. Then it really isn't he?
Nora. No, certainly not. It would never have entered into my head
for a moment. Besides, he had no money to lend then; he came into
his money afterwards.
Mrs. Linde. Well, I think that was lucky for you, my dear Nora.
Nora. No, it would never have come into my head to ask Doctor
Rank. Although I am quite sure that if I had asked him--
Mrs. Linde. But of course you won't.
Nora. Of course not. I have no reason to think it could possibly
be necessary. But I am quite sure that if I told Doctor Rank--
Mrs. Linde. Behind your husband's back?
Nora. I must make an end of it with the other one, and that will
be behind his back too. I must make an end of it with him.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, that is what I told you yesterday, but--
Nora (walking up and down). A man can put a thing like that
straight much easier than a woman--
Mrs. Linde. One's husband, yes.
Nora. Nonsense! (Standing still.) When you pay off a debt you get
your bond back, don't you?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, as a matter of course.
Nora. And can tear it into a hundred thousand pieces, and burn it
up--the nasty dirty paper!
Mrs. Linde (looks hard at her, lays down her sewing and gets up
slowly). Nora, you are concealing something from me.
Nora. Do I look as if I were?
Mrs. Linde. Something has happened to you since yesterday morning.
Nora, what is it?
Nora (going nearer to her). Christine! (Listens.) Hush! there's
Torvald come home. Do you mind going in to the children for the
present? Torvald can't bear to see dressmaking going on. Let Anne
Mrs. Linde (gathering some of the things together). Certainly --
but I am not going away from here until we have had it out with
one another. (She goes into the room on the left, as HELMER comes
in from the hail.)
Nora (going up to HELMER). I have wanted you so much, Torvald
Helmer. Was that the dressmaker?
Nora. No, it was Christine; she is helping me to put my dress in
order. You will see I shall look quite smart.
Helmer. Wasn't that a happy thought of mine, now?
Nora. Splendid! But don't you think it is nice of me, too, to do
as you wish?
Helmer. Nice?--because you do as your husband wishes? Well, well,
you little rogue, I am sure you did not mean it in that way. But
I am not going to disturb you; you will want to be trying on your
dress, I expect.
Nora. I suppose you are going to work.
Helmer. Yes. (Shows her a bundle of papers.) Look at that. I have
just been into the bank. (Turns to go into his room.)
Nora. If your little squirrel were to ask you for something very,
Helmer. What then?
Nora. Would you do it?
Helmer. I should like to hear what it is, first.
Nora. Your squirrel would run about and do all her tricks if you
would be nice, and do what she wants.
Helmer. Speak plainly.
Nora. Your skylark would chirp about in every room, with her song
rising and falling--
Helmer. Well, my skylark does that anyhow.
Nora. I would play the fairy and dance for you in the moonlight,
Helmer. Nora--you surely don't mean that request you made to me
Nora (going near him). Yes, Torvald, I beg you so earnestly--
Helmer. Have you really the courage to open up that question again?
Nora. Yes, dear, you must do as I ask; you must let Krogstad keep
his post in the bank.
Helmer. My dear Nora, it is his post that I have arranged Mrs.
Linde shall have.
Nora. Yes, you have been awfully kind about that; but you could
just as well dismiss some other clerk instead of Krogstad.
Helmer. This is simply incredible obstinacy! Because you chose to
give him a thoughtless promise that you would speak for him, I am
Nora. That isn't the reason, Torvald. It is for your own sake.
This fellow writes in the most scurrilous newspapers; you have
told me so yourself. He can do you an unspeakable amount of harm.
I am frightened to death of him--
Helmer. Ah, I understand; it is recollections of the past that
Nora. What do you mean?
Helmer. Naturally you are thinking of your father.
Nora. Yes--yes, of course. Just recall to your mind what these
malicious creatures wrote in the papers about papa, and how
horribly they slandered him. I believe they would have procured
his dismissal if the Department had not sent you over to inquire
into it, and if you had not been so kindly disposed and helpful
Helmer. My little Nora, there is an important difference between
your father and me. Your father's reputation as a public official
was not above suspicion. Mine is, and I hope it will continue to
be so, as long as I hold my office.
Nora. You never can tell what mischief these men may contrive. We
ought to be so well off, so snug and happy here in our peaceful
home, and have no cares--you and I and the children, Torvald!
That is why I beg you so earnestly--
Helmer. And it is just by interceding for him that you make it
impossible for me to keep him. It is already known at the Bank
that I mean to dismiss Krogstad. Is it to get about now that the
new manager has changed his mind at his wife's bidding--
Nora. And what if it did?
Helmer. Of course!--if only this obstinate little person can get
her way! Do you suppose I am going to make myself ridiculous before
my whole staff, to let people think that I am a man to be swayed by
all sorts of outside influence? I should very soon feel the
consequences of it, I can tell you! And besides, there is one thing
that makes it quite impossible for me to have Krogstad in the Bank
as long as I am manager.
Nora. Whatever is that?
Helmer. His moral failings I might perhaps have overlooked, if
Nora. Yes, you could--couldn't you?
Helmer. And I hear he is a good worker, too. But I knew him when
we were boys. It was one of those rash friendships that so often
prove an incubus in afterlife. I may as well tell you plainly,
we were once on very intimate terms with one another. But this
tactless fellow lays no restraint on himself when other people
are present. On the contrary, he thinks it gives him the right to
adopt a familiar tone with me, and every minute it is "I say,
Helmer, old fellow!" and that sort of thing. I assure you it is
extremely painful for me. He would make my position in the Bank
Nora. Torvald, I don't believe you mean that.
Helmer. Don't you? Why not?
Nora. Because it is such a narrow-minded way of looking at
Helmer. What are you saying? Narrow-minded? Do you think I am
Nora. No, just the opposite, dear--and it is exactly for that
Helmer. It's the same thing. You say my point of view is narrow-
minded, so I must be so too. Narrow-minded! Very well--I must put
an end to this. (Goes to the hall door and calls.) Helen!
Nora. What are you going to do?
Helmer (looking among his papers). Settle it. (Enter MAID.) Look
here; take this letter and go downstairs with it at once. Find a
messenger and tell him to deliver it, and be quick. The address
is on it, and here is the money.
Maid. Very well, sir. (Exit with the letter.)
Helmer (putting his papers together). Now then, little Miss
Nora (breathlessly). Torvald--what was that letter?
Helmer. Krogstad's dismissal.
Nora. Call her back, Torvald! There is still time. Oh Torvald,
call her back! Do it for my sake--for your own sake--for the
children's sake! Do you hear me, Torvald? Call her back! You
don't know what that letter can bring upon us.
Helmer. It's too late.
Nora. Yes, it's too late.
Helmer. My dear Nora, I can forgive the anxiety you are in,
although really it is an insult to me. It is, indeed. Isn't
it an insult to think that I should be afraid of a starving
quill-driver's vengeance? But I forgive you nevertheless,
because it is such eloquent witness to your great love for
me. (Takes her in his arms.) And that is as it should be,
my own darling Nora. Come what will, you may be sure I shall
have both courage and strength if they be needed. You will
see I am man enough to take everything upon myself.
Nora (in a horror-stricken voice). What do you mean by that?
Helmer. Everything, I say--
Nora (recovering herself). You will never have to do that.
Helmer. That's right. Well, we will share it, Nora, as man
and wife should. That is how it shall be. (Caressing her.)
Are you content now? There! There!--not these frightened dove's
eyes! The whole thing is only the wildest fancy!--Now, you must
go and play through the Tarantella and practise with your
tambourine. I shall go into the inner office and shut the door,
and I shall hear nothing; you can make as much noise as you
please. (Turns back at the door.) And when Rank comes, tell him
where he will find me. (Nods to her, takes his papers and goes
into his room, and shuts the door after him.)
Nora (bewildered with anxiety, stands as if rooted to the spot,
and whispers). He was capable of doing it. He will do it. He will
do it in spite of everything.--No, not that! Never, never!
Anything rather than that I Oh, for some help, some way out of
it! (The door-bell rings.) Doctor Rank! Anything rather than
that--anything, whatever it is! (She puts her hands over her
face, pulls herself together, goes to the door and opens it. RANK
is standing without, hanging up his coat. During the following
dialogue it begins to grow dark.)
Nora. Good day, Doctor Rank. I knew your ring. But you mustn't
go in to Torvald now; I think he is busy with something.
Rank. And you?
Nora (brings him in and shuts the door after him). Oh, you know
very well I always have time for you.
Rank. Thank you. I shall make use of as much of it as I can.
Nora. What do you mean by that? As much of it as you can?
Rank. Well, does that alarm you?
Nora. It was such a strange way of putting it. Is anything likely
Rank. Nothing but what I have long been prepared for. But I
certainly didn't expect it to happen so soon.
Nora (gripping him by the arm). What have you found out? Doctor
Rank, you must tell me.
Rank (sitting down by the stove). It is all up with me. And it
can't be helped.
Nora (with a sigh of relief). Is it about yourself?
Rank. Who else? It is no use lying to one's self. I am the most
wretched of all my patients, Mrs. Helmer. Lately I have been
taking stock of my internal economy. Bankrupt! Probably within
a month I shall lie rotting in the churchyard.
Nora. What an ugly thing to say!
Rank. The thing itself is cursedly ugly, and the worst of it is
that I shall have to face so much more that is ugly before that.
I shall only make one more examination of myself; when I have
done that, I shall know pretty certainly when it will be that the
horrors of dissolution will begin. There is something I want to
tell you. Helmer's refined nature gives him an unconquerable
disgust at everything that is ugly; I won't have him in my sick-
Nora. Oh, but, Doctor Rank--
Rank. I won't have him there. Not on any account. I bar my door
to him. As soon as I am quite certain that the worst has come, I
shall send you my card with a black cross on it, and then you
will know that the loathsome end has begun.
Nora. You are quite absurd today. And I wanted you so much to be
in a really good humour.
Rank. With death stalking beside me?--To have to pay this penalty
for another man's sin? Is there any justice in that? And in
every single family, in one way or another, some such inexorable
retribution is being exacted--
Nora (putting her hands over her ears). Rubbish! Do talk of
Rank. Oh, it's a mere laughing matter, the whole thing. My poor
innocent spine has to suffer for my father's youthful amusements.
Nora (sitting at the table on the left). I suppose you mean that
he was too partial to asparagus and pate de foie gras, don't you?
Rank. Yes, and to truffles.
Nora. Truffles, yes. And oysters too, I suppose?
Rank. Oysters, of course, that goes without saying.
Nora. And heaps of port and champagne. It is sad that all these
nice things should take their revenge on our bones.
Rank. Especially that they should revenge themselves on the unlucky
bones of those who have not had the satisfaction of enjoying them.
Nora. Yes, that's the saddest part of it all.
Rank (with a searching look at her). Hm!--
Nora (after a short pause). Why did you smile?
Rank. No, it was you that laughed.
Nora. No, it was you that smiled, Doctor Rank!
Rank (rising). You are a greater rascal than I thought.
Nora. I am in a silly mood today.
Rank. So it seems.
Nora (putting her hands on his shoulders). Dear, dear Doctor
Rank, death mustn't take you away from Torvald and me.
Rank. It is a loss you would easily recover from. Those who are
gone are soon forgotten.
Nora (looking at him anxiously). Do you believe that?
Rank. People form new ties, and then--
Nora. Who will form new ties?
Rank. Both you and Helmer, when I am gone. You yourself are
already on the high road to it, I think. What did that Mrs. Linde
want here last night?
Nora. Oho!--you don't mean to say you are jealous of poor
Rank. Yes, I am. She will be my successor in this house. When I
am done for, this woman will--
Nora. Hush! don't speak so loud. She is in that room.
Rank. Today again. There, you see.
Nora. She has only come to sew my dress for me. Bless my soul,
how unreasonable you are! (Sits down on the sofa.) Be nice now,
Doctor Rank, and tomorrow you will see how beautifully I shall
dance, and you can imagine I am doing it all for you--and for
Torvald too, of course. (Takes various things out of the box.)
Doctor Rank, come and sit down here, and I will show you something.
Rank (sitting down). What is it?
Nora. Just look at those!
Rank. Silk stockings.
Nora. Flesh-coloured. Aren't they lovely? It is so dark here now,
but tomorrow--. No, no, no! you must only look at the feet. Oh
well, you may have leave to look at the legs too.
Rank. Hm!--Nora. Why are you looking so critical? Don't you think
they will fit me?
Rank. I have no means of forming an opinion about that.
Nora (looks at him for a moment). For shame! (Hits him lightly on the
ear with the stockings.) That's to punish you. (Folds them up again.)
Rank. And what other nice things am I to be allowed to see?
Nora. Not a single thing more, for being so naughty. (She looks
among the things, humming to herself.)
Rank (after a short silence). When I am sitting here, talking to
you as intimately as this, I cannot imagine for a moment what
would have become of me if I had never come into this house.
Nora (smiling). I believe you do feel thoroughly at home with us.
Rank (in a lower voice, looking straight in front of him). And to
be obliged to leave it all--
Nora. Nonsense, you are not going to leave it.
Rank (as before). And not be able to leave behind one the slightest
token of one's gratitude, scarcely even a fleeting regret--nothing
but an empty place which the first comer can fill as well as any other.
Nora. And if I asked you now for a--? No!
Rank. For what?
Nora. For a big proof of your friendship--
Rank. Yes, yes!
Nora. I mean a tremendously big favour--
Rank. Would you really make me so happy for once?
Nora. Ah, but you don't know what it is yet.
Rank. No--but tell me.
Nora. I really can't, Doctor Rank. It is something out of all
reason; it means advice, and help, and a favour--
Rank. The bigger a thing it is the better. I can't conceive what
it is you mean. Do tell me. Haven't I your confidence?
Nora. More than anyone else. I know you are my truest and best
friend, and so I will tell you what it is. Well, Doctor Rank, it
is something you must help me to prevent. You know how devotedly,
how inexpressibly deeply Torvald loves me; he would never for a
moment hesitate to give his life for me.
Rank (leaning towards her). Nora--do you think he is the only
Nora (with a slight start). The only one--?
Rank. The only one who would gladly give his life for your sake.
Nora (sadly). Is that it?
Rank. I was determined you should know it before I went away, and
there will never be a better opportunity than this. Now you know
it, Nora. And now you know, too, that you can trust me as you
would trust no one else.
Nora (rises, deliberately and quietly). Let me pass.
Rank (makes room for her to pass him, but sits still). Nora!
Nora (at the hall door). Helen, bring in the lamp. (Goes over to
the stove.) Dear Doctor Rank, that was really horrid of you.
Rank. To have loved you as much as anyone else does? Was that
Nora. No, but to go and tell me so. There was really no need--
Rank. What do you mean? Did you know--? (MAID enters with lamp,
puts it down on the table, and goes out.) Nora--Mrs. Helmer--tell
me, had you any idea of this?
Nora. Oh, how do I know whether I had or whether I hadn't? I
really can't tell you--To think you could be so clumsy, Doctor Rank!
We were getting on so nicely.
Rank. Well, at all events you know now that you can command me,
body and soul. So won't you speak out?
Nora (looking at him). After what happened?
Rank. I beg you to let me know what it is.
Nora. I can't tell you anything now.
Rank. Yes, yes. You mustn't punish me in that way. Let me have
permission to do for you whatever a man may do.
Nora. You can do nothing for me now. Besides, I really don't need
any help at all. You will find that the whole thing is merely fancy
on my part. It really is so--of course it is! (Sits down in the
rocking-chair, and looks at him with a smile.) You are a nice sort
of man, Doctor Rank!--don't you feel ashamed of yourself, now the
lamp has come?
Rank. Not a bit. But perhaps I had better go--for ever?
Nora. No, indeed, you shall not. Of course you must come here
just as before. You know very well Torvald can't do without you.
Rank. Yes, but you?
Nora. Oh, I am always tremendously pleased when you come.
Rank. It is just that, that put me on the wrong track. You are a
riddle to me. I have often thought that you would almost as soon
be in my company as in Helmer's.
Nora. Yes--you see there are some people one loves best, and
others whom one would almost always rather have as companions.
Rank. Yes, there is something in that.
Nora. When I was at home, of course I loved papa best. But I
always thought it tremendous fun if I could steal down into the
maids' room, because they never moralised at all, and talked to
each other about such entertaining things.
Rank. I see--it is their place I have taken.
Nora (jumping up and going to him). Oh, dear, nice Doctor Rank, I
never meant that at all. But surely you can understand that being
with Torvald is a little like being with papa--(Enter MAID from
Maid. If you please, ma'am. (Whispers and hands her a card.)
Nora (glancing at the card). Oh! (Puts it in her pocket.)
Rank. Is there anything wrong?
Nora. No, no, not in the least. It is only something--it is my
Rank. What? Your dress is lying there.
Nora. Oh, yes, that one; but this is another. I ordered it.
Torvald mustn't know about it--
Rank. Oho! Then that was the great secret.
Nora. Of course. Just go in to him; he is sitting in the inner
room. Keep him as long as--
Rank. Make your mind easy; I won't let him escape.
(Goes into HELMER'S room.)
Nora (to the MAID). And he is standing waiting in the kitchen?
Maid. Yes; he came up the back stairs.
Nora. But didn't you tell him no one was in?
Maid. Yes, but it was no good.
Nora. He won't go away?
Maid. No; he says he won't until he has seen you, ma'am.
Nora. Well, let him come in--but quietly. Helen, you mustn't say
anything about it to anyone. It is a surprise for my husband.
Maid. Yes, ma'am, I quite understand. (Exit.)
Nora. This dreadful thing is going to happen! It will happen in
spite of me! No, no, no, it can't happen--it shan't happen! (She
bolts the door of HELMER'S room. The MAID opens the hall door for
KROGSTAD and shuts it after him. He is wearing a fur coat, high
boots and a fur cap.)
Nora (advancing towards him). Speak low--my husband is at home.
Krogstad. No matter about that.
Nora. What do you want of me?
Krogstad. An explanation of something.
Nora. Make haste then. What is it?
Krogstad. You know, I suppose, that I have got my dismissal.
Nora. I couldn't prevent it, Mr. Krogstad. I fought as hard as I
could on your side, but it was no good.
Krogstad. Does your husband love you so little, then? He knows
what I can expose you to, and yet he ventures--
Nora. How can you suppose that he has any knowledge of the sort?
Krogstad. I didn't suppose so at all. It would not be the least
like our dear Torvald Helmer to show so much courage--
Nora. Mr. Krogstad, a little respect for my husband, please.
Krogstad. Certainly--all the respect he deserves. But since you
have kept the matter so carefully to yourself, I make bold to
suppose that you have a little clearer idea, than you had
yesterday, of what it actually is that you have done?
Nora. More than you could ever teach me.
Krogstad. Yes, such a bad lawyer as I am.
Nora. What is it you want of me?
Krogstad. Only to see how you were, Mrs. Helmer. I have been
thinking about you all day long. A mere cashier, a quill-driver,
a--well, a man like me--even he has a little of what is called
feeling, you know.
Nora. Show it, then; think of my little children.
Krogstad. Have you and your husband thought of mine? But never
mind about that. I only wanted to tell you that you need not
take this matter too seriously. In the first place there will
be no accusation made on my part.
Nora. No, of course not; I was sure of that.
Krogstad. The whole thing can be arranged amicably; there is
no reason why anyone should know anything about it. It will
remain a secret between us three.
Nora. My husband must never get to know anything about it.
Krogstad. How will you be able to prevent it? Am I to understand
that you can pay the balance that is owing?
Nora. No, not just at present.
Krogstad. Or perhaps that you have some expedient for raising the
Nora. No expedient that I mean to make use of.
Krogstad. Well, in any case, it would have been of no use to you
now. If you stood there with ever so much money in your hand, I
would never part with your bond.
Nora. Tell me what purpose you mean to put it to.
Krogstad. I shall only preserve it--keep it in my possession. No
one who is not concerned in the matter shall have the slightest
hint of it. So that if the thought of it has driven you to any
Nora. It has.
Krogstad. If you had it in your mind to run away from your home--
Nora. I had.
Krogstad. Or even something worse--
Nora. How could you know that?
Krogstad. Give up the idea.
Nora. How did you know I had thought of that?
Krogstad. Most of us think of that at first. I did, too--but I
hadn't the courage.
Nora (faintly). No more had I.
Krogstad (in a tone of relief). No, that's it, isn't it--you
hadn't the courage either?
Nora. No, I haven't--I haven't.
Krogstad. Besides, it would have been a great piece of folly.
Once the first storm at home is over--. I have a letter for your
husband in my pocket.
Nora. Telling him everything?
Krogstad. In as lenient a manner as I possibly could.
Nora (quickly). He mustn't get the letter. Tear it up. I will
find some means of getting money.
Krogstad. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer, but I think I told you just
Nora. I am not speaking of what I owe you. Tell me what sum you
are asking my husband for, and I will get the money.
Krogstad. I am not asking your husband for a penny.
Nora. What do you want, then?
Krogstad. I will tell you. I want to rehabilitate myself,
Mrs. Helmer; I want to get on; and in that your husband must
help me. For the last year and a half I have not had a hand
in anything dishonourable, amid all that time I have been
struggling in most restricted circumstances. I was content
to work my way up step by step. Now I am turned out, and I
am not going to be satisfied with merely being taken into
favour again. I want to get on, I tell you. I want to get
into the Bank again, in a higher position. Your husband
must make a place for me--
Nora. That he will never do!
Krogstad. He will; I know him; he dare not protest. And as soon
as I am in there again with him, then you will see! Within a year
I shall be the manager's right hand. It will be Nils Krogstad
and not Torvald Helmer who manages the Bank.
Nora. That's a thing you will never see!
Krogstad. Do you mean that you will--?
Nora. I have courage enough for it now.
Krogstad. Oh, you can't frighten me. A fine, spoilt lady like you--
Nora. You will see, you will see.
Krogstad. Under the ice, perhaps? Down into the cold, coal-black
water? And then, in the spring, to float up to the surface, all
horrible and unrecognisable, with your hair fallen out--
Nora. You can't frighten me.
Krogstad. Nor you me. People don't do such things, Mrs. Helmer.
Besides, what use would it be? I should have him completely in my
power all the same.
Nora. Afterwards? When I am no longer--
Krogstad. Have you forgotten that it is I who have the keeping of
your reputation? (NORA stands speechlessly looking at him.) Well,
now, I have warned you. Do not do anything foolish. When Helmer
has had my letter, I shall expect a message from him. And be sure
you remember that it is your husband himself who has forced me
into such ways as this again. I will never forgive him for that.
Goodbye, Mrs. Helmer. (Exit through the hall.)
Nora (goes to the hall door, opens it slightly and listens.) He
is going. He is not putting the letter in the box. Oh no, no!
that's impossible! (Opens the door by degrees.) What is that? He
is standing outside. He is not going downstairs. Is he
hesitating? Can he--? (A letter drops into the box; then
KROGSTAD'S footsteps are heard, until they die away as he goes
downstairs. NORA utters a stifled cry, and runs across the room
to the table by the sofa. A short pause.)
Nora. In the letter-box. (Steals across to the hall door.) There
it lies--Torvald, Torvald, there is no hope for us now!
(Mrs. LINDE comes in from the room on the left, carrying the
Mrs. Linde. There, I can't see anything more to mend now. Would
you like to try it on--?
Nora (in a hoarse whisper). Christine, come here.
Mrs. Linde (throwing the dress down on the sofa). What is the
matter with you? You look so agitated!
Nora. Come here. Do you see that letter? There, look--you can see
it through the glass in the letter-box.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I see it.
Nora. That letter is from Krogstad.
Mrs. Linde. Nora--it was Krogstad who lent you the money!
Nora. Yes, and now Torvald will know all about it.
Mrs. Linde. Believe me, Nora, that's the best thing for both of you.
Nora. You don't know all. I forged a name.
Mrs. Linde. Good heavens--!
Nora. I only want to say this to you, Christine--you must be my
Mrs. Linde. Your witness? What do you mean? What am I to--?
Nora. If I should go out of my mind--and it might easily happen--
Mrs. Linde. Nora!
Nora. Or if anything else should happen to me--anything, for
instance, that might prevent my being here--
Mrs. Linde. Nora! Nora! you are quite out of your mind.
Nora. And if it should happen that there were some one who wanted
to take all the responsibility, all the blame, you understand--
Mrs. Linde. Yes, yes--but how can you suppose--?
Nora. Then you must be my witness, that it is not true, Christine.
I am not out of my mind at all; I am in my right senses now, and
I tell you no one else has known anything about it; I, and I
alone, did the whole thing. Remember that.
Mrs. Linde. I will, indeed. But I don't understand all this.
Nora. How should you understand it? A wonderful thing is going
Mrs. Linde. A wonderful thing?
Nora. Yes, a wonderful thing!--But it is so terrible, Christine;
it mustn't happen, not for all the world.
Mrs. Linde. I will go at once and see Krogstad.
Nora. Don't go to him; he will do you some harm.
Mrs. Linde. There was a time when he would gladly do anything for
Mrs. Linde. Where does he live?
Nora. How should I know--? Yes (feeling in her pocket), here is
his card. But the letter, the letter--!
Helmer (calls from his room, knocking at the door). Nora! Nora
(cries out anxiously). Oh, what's that? What do you want?
Helmer. Don't be so frightened. We are not coming in; you have
locked the door. Are you trying on your dress?
Nora. Yes, that's it. I look so nice, Torvald.
Mrs. Linde (who has read the card). I see he lives at the corner here.
Nora. Yes, but it's no use. It is hopeless. The letter is lying
there in the box.
Mrs. Linde. And your husband keeps the key?
Nora. Yes, always.
Mrs. Linde. Krogstad must ask for his letter back unread, he must
find some pretence--
Nora. But it is just at this time that Torvald generally--
Mrs. Linde. You must delay him. Go in to him in the meantime. I
will come back as soon as I can. (She goes out hurriedly through
the hall door.)
Nora (goes to HELMER'S door, opens it and peeps in). Torvald!
Helmer (from the inner room). Well? May I venture at last to come
into my own room again? Come along, Rank, now you will see--
(Halting in the doorway.) But what is this?
Nora. What is what, dear?
Helmer. Rank led me to expect a splendid transformation.
Rank (in the doorway). I understood so, but evidently I was
Nora. Yes, nobody is to have the chance of admiring me in my
dress until tomorrow.
Helmer. But, my dear Nora, you look so worn out. Have you been
practising too much?
Nora. No, I have not practised at all.
Helmer. But you will need to--
Nora. Yes, indeed I shall, Torvald. But I can't get on a bit
without you to help me; I have absolutely forgotten the whole
Helmer. Oh, we will soon work it up again.
Nora. Yes, help me, Torvald. Promise that you will! I am so
nervous about it--all the people--. You must give yourself up to
me entirely this evening. Not the tiniest bit of business--you
mustn't even take a pen in your hand. Will you promise, Torvald dear?
Helmer. I promise. This evening I will be wholly and absolutely
at your service, you helpless little mortal. Ah, by the way,
first of all I will just-- (Goes towards the hall door.)
Nora. What are you going to do there?
Helmer. Only see if any letters have come.
Nora. No, no! don't do that, Torvald!
Helmer. Why not?
Nora. Torvald, please don't. There is nothing there.
Helmer. Well, let me look. (Turns to go to the letter-box. NORA,
at the piano, plays the first bars of the Tarantella. HELMER
stops in the doorway.) Aha!
Nora. I can't dance tomorrow if I don't practise with you.
Helmer (going up to her). Are you really so afraid of it, dear?
Nora. Yes, so dreadfully afraid of it. Let me practise at once;
there is time now, before we go to dinner. Sit down and play for
me, Torvald dear; criticise me, and correct me as you play.
Helmer. With great pleasure, if you wish me to. (Sits down at the
Nora (takes out of the box a tambourine and a long variegated
shawl. She hastily drapes the shawl round her. Then she springs
to the front of the stage and calls out). Now play for me! I am
going to dance!
(HELMER plays and NORA dances. RANK stands by the piano behind
HELMER, and looks on.)
Helmer (as he plays). Slower, slower!
Nora. I can't do it any other way.
Helmer. Not so violently, Nora!
Nora. This is the way.
Helmer (stops playing). No, no--that is not a bit right.
Nora (laughing and swinging the tambourine). Didn't I tell you
Rank. Let me play for her.
Helmer (getting up). Yes, do. I can correct her better then.
(RANK sits down at the piano and plays. NORA dances more and more
wildly. HELMER has taken up a position beside the stove, and
during her dance gives her frequent instructions. She does not
seem to hear him; her hair comes down and falls over her
shoulders; she pays no attention to it, but goes on dancing.
Enter Mrs. LINDE.)
Mrs. Linde (standing as if spell-bound in the doorway). Oh!--
Nora (as she dances). Such fun, Christine!
Helmer. My dear darling Nora, you are dancing as if your life
depended on it.
Nora. So it does.
Helmer. Stop, Rank; this is sheer madness. Stop, I tell you!
(RANK stops playing, and NORA suddenly stands still. HELMER goes
up to her.) I could never have believed it. You have forgotten
everything I taught you.
Nora (throwing away the tambourine). There, you see.
Helmer. You will want a lot of coaching.
Nora. Yes, you see how much I need it. You must coach me up to
the last minute. Promise me that, Torvald!
Helmer. You can depend on me.
Nora. You must not think of anything but me, either today or
tomorrow; you mustn't open a single letter--not even open the
Helmer. Ah, you are still afraid of that fellow--
Nora. Yes, indeed I am.
Helmer. Nora, I can tell from your looks that there is a letter
from him lying there.
Nora. I don't know; I think there is; but you must not read
anything of that kind now. Nothing horrid must come between us
until this is all over.
Rank (whispers to HELMER). You mustn't contradict her.
Helmer (taking her in his arms). The child shall have her way.
But tomorrow night, after you have danced--
Nora. Then you will be free. (The MAID appears in the doorway to
Maid. Dinner is served, ma'am.
Nora. We will have champagne, Helen.
Maid. Very good, ma'am. [Exit.
Helmer. Hullo!--are we going to have a banquet?
Nora. Yes, a champagne banquet until the small hours. (Calls out.)
And a few macaroons, Helen--lots, just for once!
Helmer. Come, come, don't be so wild and nervous. Be my own
little skylark, as you used.
Nora. Yes, dear, I will. But go in now and you too, Doctor Rank.
Christine, you must help me to do up my hair.
Rank (whispers to HELMER as they go out). I suppose there is
nothing--she is not expecting anything?
Helmer. Far from it, my dear fellow; it is simply nothing more
than this childish nervousness I was telling you of. (They go
into the right-hand room.)
Mrs. Linde. Gone out of town.
Nora. I could tell from your face.
Mrs. Linde. He is coming home tomorrow evening. I wrote a note
Nora. You should have let it alone; you must prevent nothing.
After all, it is splendid to be waiting for a wonderful thing to
Mrs. Linde. What is it that you are waiting for?
Nora. Oh, you wouldn't understand. Go in to them, I will come in
a moment. (Mrs. LINDE goes into the dining-room. NORA stands
still for a little while, as if to compose herself. Then she
looks at her watch.) Five o'clock. Seven hours until midnight; and
then four-and-twenty hours until the next midnight. Then the
Tarantella will be over. Twenty-four and seven? Thirty-one hours
Helmer (from the doorway on the right). Where's my little skylark?
Nora (going to him with her arms outstretched). Here she is!
(THE SAME SCENE.--The table has been placed in the middle of the
stage, with chairs around it. A lamp is burning on the table. The
door into the hall stands open. Dance music is heard in the room
above. Mrs. LINDE is sitting at the table idly turning over the
leaves of a book; she tries to read, but does not seem able to
collect her thoughts. Every now and then she listens intently for
a sound at the outer door.)
Mrs. Linde (looking at her watch). Not yet--and the time is
nearly up. If only he does not--. (Listens again.) Ah, there he is.
(Goes into the hall and opens the outer door carefully.
Light footsteps are heard on the stairs. She whispers.)
Come in. There is no one here.
Krogstad (in the doorway). I found a note from you at home. What
does this mean?
Mrs. Linde. It is absolutely necessary that I should have a talk
Krogstad. Really? And is it absolutely necessary that it should
Mrs. Linde. It is impossible where I live; there is no private
entrance to my rooms. Come in; we are quite alone. The maid is
asleep, and the Helmers are at the dance upstairs.
Krogstad (coming into the room). Are the Helmers really at a
Mrs. Linde. Yes, why not?
Krogstad. Certainly--why not?
Mrs. Linde. Now, Nils, let us have a talk.
Krogstad. Can we two have anything to talk about?
Mrs. Linde. We have a great deal to talk about.
Krogstad. I shouldn't have thought so.
Mrs. Linde. No, you have never properly understood me.
Krogstad. Was there anything else to understand except what
was obvious to all the world--a heartless woman jilts a man
when a more lucrative chance turns up?
Mrs. Linde. Do you believe I am as absolutely heartless as
all that? And do you believe that I did it with a light heart?
Krogstad. Didn't you?
Mrs. Linde. Nils, did you really think that?
Krogstad. If it were as you say, why did you write to me as you
did at the time?
Mrs. Linde. I could do nothing else. As I had to break with you,
it was my duty also to put an end to all that you felt for me.
Krogstad (wringing his hands). So that was it. And all this--only
for the sake of money!
Mrs. Linde. You must not forget that I had a helpless mother and
two little brothers. We couldn't wait for you, Nils; your
prospects seemed hopeless then.
Krogstad. That may be so, but you had no right to throw me over
for anyone else's sake.
Mrs. Linde. Indeed I don't know. Many a time did I ask myself if
I had the right to do it.
Krogstad (more gently). When I lost you, it was as if all the
solid ground went from under my feet. Look at me now--I am a shipwrecked
man clinging to a bit of wreckage.
Mrs. Linde. But help may be near.
Krogstad. It was near; but then you came and stood in my way.
Mrs. Linde. Unintentionally, Nils. It was only today that I
learned it was your place I was going to take in the Bank.
Krogstad. I believe you, if you say so. But now that you know it,
are you not going to give it up to me?
Mrs. Linde. No, because that would not benefit you in the least.
Krogstad. Oh, benefit, benefit--I would have done it whether or no.
Mrs. Linde. I have learned to act prudently. Life, and hard, bitter
necessity have taught me that.
Krogstad. And life has taught me not to believe in fine speeches.
Mrs. Linde. Then life has taught you something very reasonable.
But deeds you must believe in?
Krogstad. What do you mean by that?
Mrs. Linde. You said you were like a shipwrecked man clinging to
Krogstad. I had good reason to say so.
Mrs. Linde. Well, I am like a shipwrecked woman clinging to some
wreckage--no one to mourn for, no one to care for.
Krogstad. It was your own choice.
Mrs. Linde. There was no other choice--then.
Krogstad. Well, what now?
Mrs. Linde. Nils, how would it be if we two shipwrecked people
could join forces?
Krogstad. What are you saying?
Mrs. Linde. Two on the same piece of wreckage would stand a
better chance than each on their own.
Krogstad. Christine I...
Mrs. Linde. What do you suppose brought me to town?
Krogstad. Do you mean that you gave me a thought?
Mrs. Linde. I could not endure life without work. All my life, as
long as I can remember, I have worked, and it has been my greatest
and only pleasure. But now I am quite alone in the world--my life
is so dreadfully empty and I feel so forsaken. There is not the
least pleasure in working for one's self. Nils, give me someone and
something to work for.
Krogstad. I don't trust that. It is nothing but a woman's
overstrained sense of generosity that prompts you to make such an
offer of yourself.
Mrs. Linde. Have you ever noticed anything of the sort in me?
Krogstad. Could you really do it? Tell me--do you know all about
my past life?
Mrs. Linde. Yes.
Krogstad. And do you know what they think of me here?
Mrs. Linde. You seemed to me to imply that with me you might have
been quite another man.
Krogstad. I am certain of it.
Mrs. Linde. Is it too late now?
Krogstad. Christine, are you saying this deliberately? Yes, I am
sure you are. I see it in your face. Have you really the courage,
Mrs. Linde. I want to be a mother to someone, and your children
need a mother. We two need each other. Nils, I have faith in your
real character--I can dare anything together with you.
Krogstad (grasps her hands). Thanks, thanks, Christine! Now I
shall find a way to clear myself in the eyes of the world. Ah,
but I forgot--
Mrs. Linde (listening). Hush! The Tarantella! Go, go!
Krogstad. Why? What is it?
Mrs. Linde. Do you hear them up there? When that is over, we may
expect them back.
Krogstad. Yes, yes--I will go. But it is all no use. Of course
you are not aware what steps I have taken in the matter of the
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I know all about that.
Krogstad. And in spite of that have you the courage to--?
Mrs. Linde. I understand very well to what lengths a man like you
might be driven by despair.
Krogstad. If I could only undo what I have done!
Mrs. Linde. You cannot. Your letter is lying in the letter-box
Krogstad. Are you sure of that?
Mrs. Linde. Quite sure, but--
Krogstad (with a searching look at her). Is that what it all
means?--that you want to save your friend at any cost? Tell me
frankly. Is that it?
Mrs. Linde. Nils, a woman who has once sold herself for another's
sake, doesn't do it a second time.
Krogstad. I will ask for my letter back.
Mrs. Linde. No, no.
Krogstad. Yes, of course I will. I will wait here until Helmer
comes; I will tell him he must give me my letter back--that it
only concerns my dismissal--that he is not to read it--
Mrs. Linde. No, Nils, you must not recall your letter.
Krogstad. But, tell me, wasn't it for that very purpose that you
asked me to meet you here?
Mrs. Linde. In my first moment of fright, it was. But twenty-four
hours have elapsed since then, and in that time I have witnessed
incredible things in this house. Helmer must know all about it.
This unhappy secret must be disclosed; they must have a complete
understanding between them, which is impossible with all this
concealment and falsehood going on.
Krogstad. Very well, if you will take the responsibility. But
there is one thing I can do in any case, and I shall do it at
Mrs. Linde (listening). You must be quick and go! The dance is
over; we are not safe a moment longer.
Krogstad. I will wait for you below.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, do. You must see me back to my door...
Krogstad. I have never had such an amazing piece of good fortune
in my life! (Goes out through the outer door. The door between
the room and the hall remains open.)
Mrs. Linde (tidying up the room and laying her hat and cloak
ready). What a difference! what a difference! Someone to work
for and live for--a home to bring comfort into. That I will do,
indeed. I wish they would be quick and come--(Listens.) Ah, there
they are now. I must put on my things. (Takes up her hat and
cloak. HELMER'S and NORA'S voices are heard outside; a key is
turned, and HELMER brings NORA almost by force into the hall. She
is in an Italian costume with a large black shawl around her; he
is in evening dress, and a black domino which is flying open.)
Nora (hanging back in the doorway, and struggling with him). No,
no, no!--don't take me in. I want to go upstairs again; I don't
want to leave so early.
Helmer. But, my dearest Nora--
Nora. Please, Torvald dear--please, please--only an hour more.
Helmer. Not a single minute, my sweet Nora. You know that was our
agreement. Come along into the room; you are catching cold
standing there. (He brings her gently into the room, in spite of
Mrs. Linde. Good evening.
Helmer. You here, so late, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, you must excuse me; I was so anxious to see Nora
in her dress.
Nora. Have you been sitting here waiting for me?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, unfortunately I came too late, you had already
gone upstairs; and I thought I couldn't go away again without
having seen you.
Helmer (taking off NORA'S shawl). Yes, take a good look at her. I
think she is worth looking at. Isn't she charming, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, indeed she is.
Helmer. Doesn't she look remarkably pretty? Everyone thought so
at the dance. But she is terribly self-willed, this sweet little
person. What are we to do with her? You will hardly believe that
I had almost to bring her away by force.
Nora. Torvald, you will repent not having let me stay, even if it
were only for half an hour.
Helmer. Listen to her, Mrs. Linde! She had danced her Tarantella,
and it had been a tremendous success, as it deserved--although
possibly the performance was a trifle too realistic--a little
more so, I mean, than was strictly compatible with the limitations
of art. But never mind about that! The chief thing is, she had made
a success--she had made a tremendous success. Do you think I was going
to let her remain there after that, and spoil the effect? No, indeed!
I took my charming little Capri maiden--my capricious little
Capri maiden, I should say--on my arm; took one quick turn
round the room; a curtsey on either side, and, as they say in
novels, the beautiful apparition disappeared. An exit ought always
to be effective, Mrs. Linde; but that is what I cannot make Nora
understand. Pooh! this room is hot. (Throws his domino on a
chair, and opens the door of his room.) Hullo! it's all dark
in here. Oh, of course--excuse me--. (He goes in, and lights
Nora (in a hurried and breathless whisper). Well?
Mrs. Linde (in a low voice). I have had a talk with him.
Nora. Yes, and--
Mrs. Linde. Nora, you must tell your husband all about it.
Nora (in an expressionless voice). I knew it.
Mrs. Linde. You have nothing to be afraid of as far as Krogstad
is concerned; but you must tell him.
Nora. I won't tell him.
Mrs. Linde. Then the letter will.
Nora. Thank you, Christine. Now I know what I must do. Hush--!
Helmer (coming in again). Well, Mrs. Linde, have you admired her?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, and now I will say goodnight.
Helmer. What, already? Is this yours, this knitting?
Mrs. Linde (taking it). Yes, thank you, I had very nearly forgotten it.
Helmer. So you knit?
Mrs. Linde. Of course.
Helmer. Do you know, you ought to embroider.
Mrs. Linde. Really? Why?
Helmer. Yes, it's far more becoming. Let me show you. You hold
the embroidery thus in your left hand, and use the needle with
the right--like this--with a long, easy sweep. Do you see?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, perhaps--
Helmer. But in the case of knitting--that can never be anything
but ungraceful; look here--the arms close together, the knitting-
needles going up and down--it has a sort of Chinese effect--.
That was really excellent champagne they gave us.
Mrs. Linde. Well,--goodnight, Nora, and don't be self-willed any
Helmer. That's right, Mrs. Linde.
Mrs. Linde. Goodnight, Mr. Helmer.
Helmer (accompanying her to the door). Goodnight, goodnight. I
hope you will get home all right. I should be very happy to--but
you haven't any great distance to go. Goodnight, goodnight.
(She goes out; he shuts the door after her, and comes in again.)
Ah!--at last we have got rid of her. She is a frightful bore,
Nora. Aren't you very tired, Torvald?
Helmer. No, not in the least.
Nora. Nor sleepy?
Helmer. Not a bit. On the contrary, I feel extraordinarily lively.
And you?--you really look both tired and sleepy.
Nora. Yes, I am very tired. I want to go to sleep at once.
Helmer. There, you see it was quite right of me not to let you
stay there any longer.
Nora. Everything you do is quite right, Torvald.
Helmer (kissing her on the forehead). Now my little skylark is
speaking reasonably. Did you notice what good spirits Rank was in
Nora. Really? Was he? I didn't speak to him at all.
Helmer. And I very little, but I have not for a long time seen
him in such good form. (Looks for a while at her and then goes
nearer to her.) It is delightful to be at home by ourselves again,
to be all alone with you--you fascinating, charming little darling!
Nora. Don't look at me like that, Torvald.
Helmer. Why shouldn't I look at my dearest treasure?--at all the
beauty that is mine, all my very own?
Nora (going to the other side of the table). You mustn't say
things like that to me tonight.
Helmer (following her). You have still got the Tarantella in your
blood, I see. And it makes you more captivating than ever.
Listen--the guests are beginning to go now. (In a lower voice.)
Nora--soon the whole house will be quiet.
Nora. Yes, I hope so.
Helmer. Yes, my own darling Nora. Do you know, when I am out at a
party with you like this, why I speak so little to you, keep away
from you, and only send a stolen glance in your direction now and
then?--do you know why I do that? It is because I make believe to
myself that we are secretly in love, and you are my secretly
promised bride, and that no one suspects there is anything between us.
Nora. Yes, yes--I know very well your thoughts are with me all
Helmer. And when we are leaving, and I am putting the shawl over
your beautiful young shoulders--on your lovely neck--then I imagine
that you are my young bride and that we have just come from the
wedding, and I am bringing you for the first time into our
home--to be alone with you for the first time--quite alone with
my shy little darling! All this evening I have longed for nothing
but you. When I watched the seductive figures of the Tarantella,
my blood was on fire; I could endure it no longer, and that was
why I brought you down so early--
Nora. Go away, Torvald! You must let me go. I won't--
Helmer. What's that? You're joking, my little Nora! You won't--
you won't? Am I not your husband--? (A knock is heard at the
Nora (starting). Did you hear--?
Helmer (going into the hall). Who is it?
Rank (outside). It is I. May I come in for a moment?
Helmer (in a fretful whisper). Oh, what does he want now?
(Aloud.) Wait a minute! (Unlocks the door.) Come, that's kind of
you not to pass by our door.
Rank. I thought I heard your voice, and felt as if I should like
to look in. (With a swift glance round.) Ah, yes!--these dear
familiar rooms. You are very happy and cosy in here, you two.
Helmer. It seems to me that you looked after yourself pretty well
Rank. Excellently. Why shouldn't I? Why shouldn't one enjoy
everything in this world?--at any rate as much as one can, and as
long as one can. The wine was capital--
Helmer. Especially the champagne.
Rank. So you noticed that too? It is almost incredible how much I
managed to put away!
Nora. Torvald drank a great deal of champagne tonight too.
Rank. Did he?
Nora. Yes, and he is always in such good spirits afterwards.
Rank. Well, why should one not enjoy a merry evening after a
Helmer. Well spent? I am afraid I can't take credit for that.
Rank (clapping him on the back). But I can, you know!
Nora. Doctor Rank, you must have been occupied with some
scientific investigation today.
Helmer. Just listen!--little Nora talking about scientific
Nora. And may I congratulate you on the result?
Rank. Indeed you may.
Nora. Was it favourable, then?
Rank. The best possible, for both doctor and patient--certainty.
Nora (quickly and searchingly). Certainty?
Rank. Absolute certainty. So wasn't I entitled to make a merry
evening of it after that?
Nora. Yes, you certainly were, Doctor Rank. Helmer. I think so
too, so long as you don't have to pay for it in the morning.
Rank. Oh well, one can't have anything in this life without
paying for it.
Nora. Doctor Rank--are you fond of fancy-dress balls?
Rank. Yes, if there is a fine lot of pretty costumes.
Nora. Tell me--what shall we two wear at the next?
Helmer. Little featherbrain!--are you thinking of the next
Rank. We two? Yes, I can tell you. You shall go as a good fairy--
Helmer. Yes, but what do you suggest as an appropriate costume
Rank. Let your wife go dressed just as she is in everyday life.
Helmer. That was really very prettily turned. But can't you tell
us what you will be?
Rank. Yes, my dear friend, I have quite made up my mind about that.
Rank. At the next fancy-dress ball I shall be invisible.
Helmer. That's a good joke!
Rank. There is a big black hat--have you never heard of hats that
make you invisible? If you put one on, no one can see you.
Helmer (suppressing a smile). Yes, you are quite right.
Rank. But I am clean forgetting what I came for. Helmer, give me
a cigar--one of the dark Havanas.
Helmer. With the greatest pleasure. (Offers him his case.)
Rank (takes a cigar and cuts off the end). Thanks.
Nora (striking a match). Let me give you a light.
Rank. Thank you. (She holds the match for him to light his
cigar.) And now goodbye!
Helmer. Goodbye, goodbye, dear old man!
Nora. Sleep well, Doctor Rank.
Rank. Thank you for that wish.
Nora. Wish me the same.
Rank. You? Well, if you want me to sleep well! And thanks for the
light. (He nods to them both and goes out.)
Helmer (in a subdued voice). He has drunk more than he ought.
Nora (absently). Maybe. (HELMER takes a bunch of keys out of his
pocket and goes into the hall.) Torvald! what are you going to do
Helmer. Emptying the letter-box; it is quite full; there will be no
room to put the newspaper in tomorrow morning.
Nora. Are you going to work tonight?
Helmer. You know quite well I'm not. What is this? Someone has
been at the lock.
Nora. At the lock--?
Helmer. Yes, someone has. What can it mean? I should never have
thought the maid--. Here is a broken hairpin. Nora, it is one of
Nora (quickly). Then it must have been the children--
Helmer. Then you must get them out of those ways. There, at last
I have got it open. (Takes out the contents of the letter-box,
and calls to the kitchen.) Helen!--Helen, put out the light over
the front door. (Goes back into the room and shuts the door into
the hall. He holds out his hand full of letters.) Look at that--
look what a heap of them there are. (Turning them over.) What on
earth is that?
Nora (at the window). The letter--No! Torvald, no!
Helmer. Two cards--of Rank's.
Nora. Of Doctor Rank's?
Helmer (looking at them). Doctor Rank. They were on the top. He
must have put them in when he went out.
Nora. Is there anything written on them?
Helmer. There is a black cross over the name. Look there--what an
uncomfortable idea! It looks as if he were announcing his own death.
Nora. It is just what he is doing.
Helmer. What? Do you know anything about it? Has he said anything
Nora. Yes. He told me that when the cards came it would be his
leave-taking from us. He means to shut himself up and die.
Helmer. My poor old friend! Certainly I knew we should not have
him very long with us. But so soon! And so he hides himself away
like a wounded animal.
Nora. If it has to happen, it is best it should be without a
word--don't you think so, Torvald?
Helmer (walking up and down). He had so grown into our lives. I
can't think of him as having gone out of them. He, with his
sufferings and his loneliness, was like a cloudy background to
our sunlit happiness. Well, perhaps it is best so. For him,
anyway. (Standing still.) And perhaps for us too, Nora. We
two are thrown quite upon each other now. (Puts his arms round
her.) My darling wife, I don't feel as if I could hold you tight
enough. Do you know, Nora, I have often wished that you might be
threatened by some great danger, so that I might risk my life's
blood, and everything, for your sake.
Nora (disengages herself, and says firmly and decidedly). Now you
must read your letters, Torvald.
Helmer. No, no; not tonight. I want to be with you, my darling wife.
Nora. With the thought of your friend's death--
Helmer. You are right, it has affected us both. Something ugly
has come between us--the thought of the horrors of death.
We must try and rid our minds of that. Until then--we will
each go to our own room.
Nora (hanging on his neck). Goodnight, Torvald--Goodnight!
Helmer (kissing her on the forehead). Goodnight, my little
singing-bird. Sleep sound, Nora. Now I will read my letters
through. (He takes his letters and goes into his room, shutting
the door after him.)
Nora (gropes distractedly about, seizes HELMER'S domino, throws
it round her, while she says in quick, hoarse, spasmodic
whispers). Never to see him again. Never! Never! (Puts her shawl
over her head.) Never to see my children again either--never
again. Never! Never!--Ah! the icy, black water--the unfathomable
depths--If only it were over! He has got it now--now he is reading
it. Goodbye, Torvald and my children! (She is about to rush out
through the hall, when HELMER opens his door hurriedly and stands
with an open letter in his hand.)
Nora. Ah!--Helmer. What is this? Do you know what is in this letter?
Nora. Yes, I know. Let me go! Let me get out!
Helmer (holding her back). Where are you going?
Nora (trying to get free). You shan't save me, Torvald!
Helmer (reeling). True? Is this true, that I read here? Horrible!
No, no--it is impossible that it can be true.
Nora. It is true. I have loved you above everything else in the world.
Helmer. Oh, don't let us have any silly excuses.
Nora (taking a step towards him). Torvald--!
Helmer. Miserable creature--what have you done?
Nora. Let me go. You shall not suffer for my sake. You shall not
take it upon yourself.
Helmer. No tragic airs, please. (Locks the hall door.) Here you
shall stay and give me an explanation. Do you understand what you
have done? Answer me! Do you understand what you have done?
Nora (looks steadily at him and says with a growing look of
coldness in her face). Yes, now I am beginning to understand
Helmer (walking about the room). What a horrible awakening! All
these eight years--she who was my joy and pride--a hypocrite, a
liar--worse, worse--a criminal! The unutterable ugliness of it
all!--For shame! For shame! (NORA is silent and looks steadily at
him. He stops in front of her.) I ought to have suspected that
something of the sort would happen. I ought to have foreseen it.
All your father's want of principle--be silent!--all your father's
want of principle has come out in you. No religion, no morality,
no sense of duty--. How I am punished for having winked at what he did!
I did it for your sake, and this is how you repay me.
Nora. Yes, that's just it.
Helmer. Now you have destroyed all my happiness. You have ruined
all my future. It is horrible to think of! I am in the power of
an unscrupulous man; he can do what he likes with me, ask anything
he likes of me, give me any orders he pleases--I dare not refuse.
And I must sink to such miserable depths because of a thoughtless woman!
Nora. When I am out of the way, you will be free.
Helmer. No fine speeches, please. Your father had always plenty
of those ready, too. What good would it be to me if you were out
of the way, as you say? Not the slightest. He can make the affair
known everywhere; and if he does, I may be falsely suspected of
having been a party to your criminal action. Very likely people
will think I was behind it all--that it was I who prompted you!
And I have to thank you for all this--you whom I have cherished
during the whole of our married life. Do you understand now what
it is you have done for me?
Nora (coldly and quietly). Yes.
Helmer. It is so incredible that I can't take it in. But we must
come to some understanding. Take off that shawl. Take it off, I
tell you. I must try and appease him some way or another. The
matter must be hushed up at any cost. And as for you and me, it
must appear as if everything between us were just as before-- but
naturally only in the eyes of the world. You will still remain in
my house, that is a matter of course. But I shall not allow you
to bring up the children; I dare not trust them to you. To think
that I should be obliged to say so to one whom I have loved so
dearly, and whom I still--. No, that is all over. From this moment
happiness is not the question; all that concerns us is to save the
remains, the fragments, the appearance--
(A ring is heard at the front-door bell.)
Helmer (with a start). What is that? So late! Can the worst--?
Can he--? Hide yourself, Nora. Say you are ill.
(NORA stands motionless. HELMER goes and unlocks the hall door.)
Maid (half-dressed, comes to the door). A letter for the mistress.
Helmer. Give it to me. (Takes the letter, and shuts the door.)
Yes, it is from him. You shall not have it; I will read it myself.
Nora. Yes, read it.
Helmer (standing by the lamp). I scarcely have the courage to do
it. It may mean ruin for both of us. No, I must know. (Tears open
the letter, runs his eye over a few lines, looks at a paper
enclosed, and gives a shout of joy.) Nora! (She looks at him
questioningly.) Nora!--No, I must read it once again--. Yes, it
is true! I am saved! Nora, I am saved!
Nora. And I?
Helmer. You too, of course; we are both saved, both you and I.
Look, he sends you your bond back. He says he regrets and repents--
that a happy change in his life--never mind what he says! We
are saved, Nora! No one can do anything to you. Oh, Nora,
Nora!--no, first I must destroy these hateful things. Let
me see--. (Takes a look at the bond.) No, no, I won't look
at it. The whole thing shall be nothing but a bad dream to
me. (Tears up the bond and both letters, throws them all
into the stove, and watches them burn.) There--now it doesn't
exist any longer. He says that since Christmas Eve you--.
These must have been three dreadful days for you, Nora.
Nora. I have fought a hard fight these three days.
Helmer. And suffered agonies, and seen no way out but--. No, we
won't call any of the horrors to mind. We will only shout with
joy, and keep saying, "It's all over! It's all over!" Listen to
me, Nora. You don't seem to realise that it is all over. What is
this?--such a cold, set face! My poor little Nora, I quite
understand; you don't feel as if you could believe that I have
forgiven you. But it is true, Nora, I swear it; I have forgiven
you everything. I know that what you did, you did out of love for me.
Nora. That is true.
Helmer. You have loved me as a wife ought to love her husband. Only
you had not sufficient knowledge to judge of the means you used. But
do you suppose you are any the less dear to me, because you don't
understand how to act on your own responsibility? No, no; only lean
on me; I will advise you and direct you. I should not be a man if
this womanly helplessness did not just give you a double
attractiveness in my eyes. You must not think anymore about the
hard things I said in my first moment of consternation, when
I thought everything was going to overwhelm me. I have forgiven
you, Nora; I swear to you I have forgiven you.
Nora. Thank you for your forgiveness. (She goes out through the
door to the right.)
Helmer. No, don't go--. (Looks in.) What are you doing in there?
Nora (from within). Taking off my fancy dress.
Helmer (standing at the open door). Yes, do. Try and calm yourself,
and make your mind easy again, my frightened little singing-bird. Be
at rest, and feel secure; I have broad wings to shelter you under.
(Walks up and down by the door.) How warm and cosy our home is,
Nora. Here is shelter for you; here I will protect you like a
hunted dove that I have saved from a hawk's claws; I will bring
peace to your poor beating heart. It will come, little by little,
Nora, believe me. Tomorrow morning you will look upon it all quite
differently; soon everything will be just as it was before.
Very soon you won't need me to assure you that I have forgiven
you; you will yourself feel the certainty that I have done so.
Can you suppose I should ever think of such a thing as
repudiating you, or even reproaching you? You have no
idea what a true man's heart is like, Nora. There is something so
indescribably sweet and satisfying, to a man, in the knowledge
that he has forgiven his wife--forgiven her freely, and with all
his heart. It seems as if that had made her, as it were, doubly
his own; he has given her a new life, so to speak; and she has
in a way become both wife and child to him. So you shall be for
me after this, my little scared, helpless darling. Have no
anxiety about anything, Nora; only be frank and open with me,
and I will serve as will and conscience both to you--. What
is this? Not gone to bed? Have you changed your things?
Nora (in everyday dress). Yes, Torvald, I have changed my things now.
Helmer. But what for?--so late as this.
Nora. I shall not sleep tonight.
Helmer. But, my dear Nora--
Nora (looking at her watch). It is not so very late. Sit down
here, Torvald. You and I have much to say to one another. (She
sits down at one side of the table.)
Helmer. Nora--what is this?--this cold, set face? Nora. Sit down.
It will take some time; I have a lot to talk over with you.
Helmer (sits down at the opposite side of the table). You alarm
me, Nora!--and I don't understand you.
Nora. No, that is just it. You don't understand me, and I have
never understood you either--before tonight. No, you mustn't
interrupt me. You must simply listen to what I say. Torvald,
this is a settling of accounts.
Helmer. What do you mean by that?
Nora (after a short silence). Isn't there one thing that strikes
you as strange in our sitting here like this?
Helmer. What is that?
Nora. We have been married now eight years. Does it not occur
to you that this is the first time we two, you and I, husband
and wife, have had a serious conversation?
Helmer. What do you mean by serious?
Nora. In all these eight years--longer than that--from the very
beginning of our acquaintance, we have never exchanged a word on
any serious subject.
Helmer. Was it likely that I would be continually and forever
telling you about worries that you could not help me to bear?
Nora. I am not speaking about business matters. I say that we
have never sat down in earnest together to try and get at the
bottom of anything.
Helmer. But, dearest Nora, would it have been any good to you?
Nora. That is just it; you have never understood me. I have been
greatly wronged, Torvald--first by papa and then by you.
Helmer. What! By us two--by us two, who have loved you better
than anyone else in the world?
Nora (shaking her head). You have never loved me. You have only
thought it pleasant to be in love with me.
Helmer. Nora, what do I hear you saying?
Nora. It is perfectly true, Torvald. When I was at home with
papa, he told me his opinion about everything, and so I
had the same opinions; and if I differed from him I
concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it.
He called me his doll-child, and he played with me just
as I used to play with my dolls. And when I came to
live with you--
Helmer. What sort of an expression is that to use about our marriage?
Nora (undisturbed). I mean that I was simply transferred from
papa's hands into yours. You arranged everything according to
your own taste, and so I got the same tastes as your else I
pretended to, I am really not quite sure which--I think
sometimes the one and sometimes the other. When I look back
on it, it seems to me as if I had been living here like a
poor woman--just from hand to mouth. I have existed merely
to perform tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it
so. You and papa have committed a great sin against me.
It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life.
Helmer. How unreasonable and how ungrateful you are, Nora! Have
you not been happy here?
Nora. No, I have never been happy. I thought I was, but it has
never really been so.
Helmer. Not--not happy!
Nora. No, only merry. And you have always been so kind to me.
But our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been
your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa's doll-child; and
here the children have been my dolls. I thought it great fun
when you played with me, just as they thought it great fun
when I played with them. That is what our marriage has been, Torvald.
Helmer. There is some truth in what you say--exaggerated and
strained as your view of it is. But for the future it shall be
different. Playtime shall be over, and lesson-time shall begin.
Nora. Whose lessons? Mine, or the children's?
Helmer. Both yours and the children's, my darling Nora.
Nora. Alas, Torvald, you are not the man to educate me into being
a proper wife for you.
Helmer. And you can say that!
Nora. And I--how am I fitted to bring up the children?
Nora. Didn't you say so yourself a little while ago-- that you
dare not trust me to bring them up?
Helmer. In a moment of anger! Why do you pay any heed to that?
Nora. Indeed, you were perfectly right. I am not fit for the
task. There is another task I must undertake first. I must
try and educate myself--you are not the man to help me in
that. I must do that for myself. And that is why I am
going to leave you now.
Helmer (springing up). What do you say?
Nora. I must stand quite alone, if I am to understand myself and
everything about me. It is for that reason that I cannot remain
with you any longer.
Helmer. Nora, Nora!
Nora. I am going away from here now, at once. I am sure Christine
will take me in for the night--
Helmer. You are out of your mind! I won't allow it! I forbid you!
Nora. It is no use forbidding me anything any longer. I will take
with me what belongs to myself. I will take nothing from you,
either now or later.
Helmer. What sort of madness is this!
Nora. Tomorrow I shall go home-- I mean, to my old home. It will
be easiest for me to find something to do there.
Helmer. You blind, foolish woman!
Nora. I must try and get some sense, Torvald.
Helmer. To desert your home, your husband and your children! And
you don't consider what people will say!
Nora. I cannot consider that at all. I only know that it is
necessary for me.
Helmer. It's shocking. This is how you would neglect your most
Nora. What do you consider my most sacred duties?
Helmer. Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your duties to
your husband and your children?
Nora. I have other duties just as sacred.
Helmer. That you have not. What duties could those be?
Nora. Duties to myself.
Helmer. Before all else, you are a wife and a mother.
Nora. I don't believe that any longer. I believe that before all
else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are-- or, at all
events, that I must try and become one. I know quite well,
Torvald, that most people would think you right, and that
views of that kind are to be found in books; but I can no
longer content myself with what most people say, or with
what is found in books. I must think over things for myself
and get to understand them.
Helmer. Can you not understand your place in your own home?
Have you not a reliable guide in such matters as that?--have
you no religion?
Nora. I am afraid, Torvald, I do not exactly know what religion is.
Helmer. What are you saying?
Nora. I know nothing but what the clergyman said, when I went
to be confirmed. He told us that religion was this, and that,
and the other. When I am away from all this, and am alone,
I will look into that matter too. I will see if what the
clergyman said is true, or at all events if it is true for me.
Helmer. This is unheard of in a girl of your age! But if religion
cannot lead you aright, let me try and awaken your conscience. I
suppose you have some moral sense? Or-- answer me-- am I to think you
Nora. I assure you, Torvald, that is not an easy question to answer.
I really don't know. The thing perplexes me altogether. I only
know that you and I look at it in quite a different light.
I am learning, too, that the law is quite another thing from
what I supposed; but I find it impossible to convince myself
that the law is right. According to it a woman has no right
to spare her old dying father, or to save her husband's
life. I can't believe that.
Helmer. You talk like a child. You don't understand the
conditions of the world in which you live.
Nora. No, I don't. But now I am going to try. I am going
to see if I can make out who is right, the world or I.
Helmer. You are ill, Nora; you are delirious; I almost think you
are out of your mind.
Nora. I have never felt my mind so clear and certain as tonight.
Helmer. And is it with a clear and certain mind that you forsake
your husband and your children?
Nora. Yes, it is.
Helmer. Then there is only one possible explanation.
Nora. What is that?
Helmer. You do not love me anymore.
Nora. No, that is just it.
Helmer. Nora!--and you can say that?
Nora. It gives me great pain, Torvald, for you have always been
so kind to me, but I cannot help it. I do not love you any more.
Helmer (regaining his composure). Is that a clear and certain
Nora. Yes, absolutely clear and certain. That is the reason why I
will not stay here any longer.
Helmer. And can you tell me what I have done to forfeit your love?
Nora. Yes, indeed I can. It was tonight, when the wonderful thing did not
happen; then I saw you were not the man I had thought you were.
Helmer. Explain yourself better. I don't understand you.
Nora. I have waited so patiently for eight years; for, goodness
knows, I knew very well that wonderful things don't happen every
day. Then this horrible misfortune came upon me; and then I felt
quite certain that the wonderful thing was going to happen at last.
When Krogstad's letter was lying out there, never for a moment
did I imagine that you would consent to accept this man's
conditions. I was so absolutely certain that you would say
to him: Publish the thing to the whole world. And when that was done--
Helmer. Yes, what then?--when I had exposed my wife to shame and
Nora. When that was done, I was so absolutely certain, you would
come forward and take everything upon yourself, and say: I am the
Nora. You mean that I would never have accepted such a sacrifice
on your part? No, of course not. But what would my assurances have
been worth against yours? That was the wonderful thing which I
hoped for and feared; and it was to prevent that, that I wanted
to kill myself.
Helmer. I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora--bear
sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his
honour for the one he loves.
Nora. It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.
Helmer. Oh, you think and talk like a heedless child.
Nora. Maybe. But you neither think nor talk like the man I
could bind myself to. As soon as your fear was over--and it
was not fear for what threatened me, but for what might happen
to you--when the whole thing was past, as far as you were
concerned it was exactly as if nothing at all had happened.
Exactly as before, I was your little skylark, your doll,
which you would in future treat with doubly gentle care,
because it was so brittle and fragile. (Getting up.)
Torvald--it was then it dawned upon me that for eight
years I had been living here with a strange man, and had
borne him three children--. Oh, I can't bear to think
of it! I could tear myself into little bits!
Helmer (sadly). I see, I see. An abyss has opened between us--there
is no denying it. But, Nora, would it not be possible to fill it up?
Nora. As I am now, I am no wife for you.
Helmer. I have it in me to become a different man.
Nora. Perhaps-- if your doll is taken away from you.
Helmer. But to part!--to part from you! No, no, Nora, I can't
understand that idea.
Nora (going out to the right). That makes it all the more certain
that it must be done. (She comes back with her cloak and hat and
a small bag which she puts on a chair by the table.)
Helmer. Nora, Nora, not now! Wait until tomorrow.
Nora (putting on her cloak). I cannot spend the night in a
strange man's room.
Helmer. But can't we live here like brother and sister--?
Nora (putting on her hat). You know very well that would not last
long. (Puts the shawl round her.) Goodbye, Torvald. I won't see
the little ones. I know they are in better hands than mine. As
I am now, I can be of no use to them.
Helmer. But some day, Nora-- some day?
Nora. How can I tell? I have no idea what is going to become of me.
Helmer. But you are my wife, whatever becomes of you.
Nora. Listen, Torvald. I have heard that when a wife deserts her
husband's house, as I am doing now, he is legally freed from all
obligations towards her. In any case, I set you free from all your
obligations. You are not to feel yourself bound in the slightest
way, any more than I shall. There must be perfect freedom on
both sides. See, here is your ring back. Give me mine.
Helmer. That too?
Nora. That too.
Helmer. Here it is.
Nora. That's right. Now it is all over. I have put the keys here.
The maids know all about everything in the house-- better than I do.
Tomorrow, after I have left her, Christine will come here and
pack up my own things that I brought with me from home. I will
have them sent after me.
Helmer. All over! All over!--Nora, shall you never think of me again?
Nora. I know I shall often think of you, the children, and this house.
Helmer. May I write to you, Nora?
Nora. No--never. You must not do that.
Helmer. But at least let me send you--
Helmer. Let me help you if you are in want.
Nora. No. I can receive nothing from a stranger.
Helmer. Nora--can I never be anything more than a stranger to you?
Nora (taking her bag). Ah, Torvald, the most wonderful thing of
all would have to happen.
Helmer. Tell me what that would be!
Nora. Both you and I would have to be so changed that--. Oh, Torvald,
I don't believe any longer in wonderful things happening.
Helmer. But I will believe in it. Tell me! So changed that--?
Nora. That our life together would be a real wedlock. Goodbye.
(She goes out through the hall.)
Helmer (sinks down on a chair at the door and buries his face in
his hands). Nora! Nora! (Looks round, and rises.) Empty. She is gone. (A hope
flashes across his mind.) The most wonderful thing of all--?
(The sound of a door shutting is heard from below.)
End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen